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The love of the Alumnae of Wheaton Seminary 
for their dear old friend has led to the preparation 
of this "Life of Mrs. Wheaton." In presenting it to 
the public, it is felt that there is need to invoke all 
the gentleness of the gentle reader, if v^e v^ould 
hope that its imperfections may be forgiven. 

In a certain sense, it is a family affair, written by 
and for the "thousand daughters" of Mrs. Whea- 
ton. It has, therefore, seemed admissible to use 
much material that to a reader outside the family 
might seem redundant, or uninteresting. Many 
parts of the book are not unlike a talk on family 
matters by members of the family. 

For instance, this has seemed a fitting place to 
pay tribute to some of the really great teachers of 
Wheaton Seminary, v^ho were all Mrs. Wheaton's 
intimate friends. Some of the greatest of these 
passed on so long ago that we have no record of 
them. Of some of the very greatest only a few 
words have been allowed; for it is felt that it would 
be out of place to say much of those still living. 

But dearly as Mrs. Wheaton loved the Seminary, 
her deepest life centred in her own home, and, 
little as the schoolgirls understood it, her large, 


loving nature was actively occupied during the 
greater part of her life with interests quite outside 
of the Seminary. She loved the town she lived in 
and worked for. Still more, she loved her home and 
her husband, and there are few records of families 
in which the brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, 
nephews and nieces, have been so dear to each 
other as in hers. Yet, almost all who were nearest 
and dearest to Mrs. Wheaton passed out of this 
life long before her, and, of the few who remain, 
most are too old and feeble to tell us her story. 
It is to her much-loved nephew and nieces, and 
especially to Mrs. John Jay Smith (Mary A. 
Chapin, of the Class of 1873), to whom Mrs. 
Wheaton willed her private papers, that we are 
indebted for most of the material that shows us how 
rich and beautiful was the part of her life which 
we, the Alumnae, did not know. While, therefore, 
we are grateful to each of the many friends who 
have contributed to our book, our heartiest thanks 
are due to Mrs. Smith, who, though suffering from 
illness and burdened with many cares, has patiently 
sifted the large mass of her aunt's papers, and 
generously shared the treasure with us. 

Harriet E. Paine, 
For the AlumnjG Committee. 

Groveland, June 8, 1907. 






NARY 64 















LIGHT 270 




gravure) Frontispiece 

From the painting by Mrs. Eunice Makepeace Toivle 



EIGHT . . 190 

From a Photograph 
From the painting by John W. Alexander 




[Note by the Editor. This chapter and the two following 
formed part of a long paper written by Mrs. Smith, the daughter 
of Mrs. Wheaton's brother Adolphus. It has been necessary 
to divide this paper, in order that it might better harmonize 
with the many other papers contributed for this book. Its con- 
cluding sentence, however, so well expresses the relation be- 
tween Mrs. Smith and her aunt, that we believe the value of 
what she has to say will be better appreciated if we quote it 

"I who have read her heart of love in a half-century of per- 
sonal records, to whom at the final parting she said with tears, 
'It is like the parting of mother and daughter,' now offer to her 
this tribute with tenderness and reverence, as one would lay 
flowers about the dead."] 

Eliza Baylies Chapin was born on "Northbridge 
Hill," in Northbridge, Massachusetts, Septem- 
ber 27, 1809. Ancestral traits showed forth so 
plainly and blossomed so generously in her varied 
character, that from the large mass of genealogical 
matter at my disposal, I shall select a few of the 
most salient points. 

On her mother's side there was a Quaker strain 
which ran back to "Thomas Bayhes, the son of 

[ I] 

Nicholas, of the parish of Alvechurch, Worcester 
County, England, who was married to Esther 
Sergeant June 5, 1706. They were both Quakers, 
and were married in a public meeting of said 
Quakers, where forty-eight signed their names as 
witnesses to the solemnizing of said marriage. They 
came to Boston from England in June, 1737, with 
their sons Nicholas and Thomas and four daugh- 
ters, two married daughters remaining in London." 
(From family records.) 

After living for a short time in Cumberland, 
Rhode Island, Thomas and his son Nicholas 
"leased the industrial establishment on the Mum- 
ford River, where Whitinsville is now located, for 
twenty-one years at thirty-four pounds a year. . . . 
They produced or dealt in 'pigg' and *barr' iron, 
nails, 'ankonys,' * and other iron merchandise, 
owned cattle and much other property, as their 
journal and ledger, beautifully kept, now show; and 
had besides the water power, developed for a saw- 
mill a dozen years before their time and forty-five 
years before Northbridge existed as a town, an 
* ore-yard' and 'refinery.' Their establishment was 
widely known as the Baylies Refinery or Finery, 
and is so named in the location of roads of the time 

^ " An cony — a piece of half-wrought iron in the shape of 
a bar in the middle, but rude and unwrought at the ends." 
(From a very old dictionary.) 


on the county records. The older son, Thomas, 
Jr., did not appear in this undertaking, but located 
at Taunton, Mass.," where his brother Nicholas 
finally removed and lived for over forty years. 
(From a paper read before the Mendon Historical 
Society in Uxbridge Town Hall, Oct. 15, 1904, by 
Gustavus Williams, Esq., of Milford.) 

This Nicholas Baylies, the great-grandfather of 
Eliza, "was a noted patriot at the time of the Revo- 
lution. His Quaker ancestry was probably respon- 
sible in part for his not participating actively in the 
struggle, but he made up for lack of personal ser- 
vice in large measure by his generosity in financial 
matters and by the value of his judgment and fore- 
sight as a councilor and adviser." Among our 
Baylies family records, I have a copy of a love letter 
which he wrote to Elizabeth Park of Newton, who 
afterwards became his wife (she evidently could not 
withstand such ardent pleading), which shows him 
to have been very susceptible to the tender passion 
and romantic in the extreme. This letter, in an 
elegant handwriting, begins: — 

Dear Creature, — I hope by the powers divine 
this little piece of writing will find you in good 
health, and the same mind still affected towards 
me, though now absent, as when I parted with you, 
my dearest Love. The reason of the Bearer's com- 


ing down was I could no longer stay with Patience 
till I heard from you. ... I throw myself at your 
lovely feet with all low submission, to crave one favor 
from my love. It is not I alone, but all of us implore 
your pity on us. Oh the Gods! I hope will incline 
your heart to what I desire, that is you will favor us 
with your company next week, for a horse will be 
down Monday or Tuesday without fail and myself. 
So if you my love deny me this request you may as 
well sign the death Warrent to him that loves you so 
true. My only Life and Happiness, it will be but a 
week sooner than our appointment which is nothing. 
Oh, the Gods themselves can't express the grief and 
anguish I endure in our separation, and if your 
heart was as hard as the flinty rock, I can't but 
implore your mercy, and yourself can't denie my 
desire. I shall be the Unhappiest of mortals if my 
fair one denies me an answer. I desire and Beg that 
my Dear will write me all the news she can. It is 
impossible for any earthly Mortal to bear the Pain 
I feel in my Lovely Creature's absence. Oh you 
must be hard and unpitiful if you don't take the 
way to make me Happy in your Company, when 
your absence will be my undoing and your presence 
the means of preserving my Life. 

Thus and much more, he who signs himself, 
Your Constant though Disconsolate lover, 

Nicholas Baylies. 


" The following story is told of this Nicholas at 
the time of his carrying on his successful iron works 
at Dighton. As was the custom of the time, his 
workmen sat at the lower end of his table. One day, 
some gentlemen from Boston were dining with him 
and asked with astonishment why he had such men 
at his table. His reply was something like this: 'I 
prefer to have them at my table, for it is by these 
rough hands that I am able to live as I do.'" (From 
S. A. Chapin.) 

"He represented the town of Uxbridge in the 
General Court as early as 1758. After he removed 
to Taunton, he represented that town in the same 
body for the poHtical years 1781-82 and 1786-87. 
He was well known in his day as one of the ablest 
politicians in Massachusetts, and though English 
born, was a most efficient supporter of America 
against British encroachments and through the 
Revolutionary struggle." (New England Genealog- 
ical Register for January, 1866.) 

The son of this Nicholas was Nicholas the third, 
the much-married man, the grandfather of the 
little Eliza; the solemn succession of his marriages 
mounting up to the number four, the last vdfe 
surviving him many years, and living in the old 
homestead. That he was no grim Bluebeard is 
evidenced by the apparent willingness of succes- 
sion as well as by the testimony of existing da- 


guerreotypes, which were copies of a painted por- 
trait hanging for many years in his residence on 
Baylies Hill. These pictures might easily foster the 
delusion that you were looking upon the face of 
some ancient Flemish worthy. A grand type of 
wholesome old age is here depicted: a strong, mas- 
sive head, square, but tapering to a noble oval in 
the chin, a wide forehead, a large and shapely 
nose, a kind, frank outlook from the earnest eyes, 
and a mouth generous, full of character, yet with 
a fine delicacy of sculpture, about which plays an 
elusive smile most friendly and reassuring. The 
loose folds of the soft white neckcloth and the heavy 
draperies of the cloak that melt into the shadow, 
complete the portrait. This fine old fellow. Deacon 
Nicholas Baylies, "was evidently one of the most 
worthy and esteemed of the prominent citizens of 
Uxbridge, whether viewed in his relations to the 
church or in his business transactions. His accounts 
show that he was an intelligent, careful manager, 
recording carefully his deaHngs and settHng most 
scrupulously with his white and negro employees, 
his neighbors, his father, his brothers, and indeed 
with his children." He was called upon to settle the 
large estate of a neighbor and to act as arbiter in a 
controversy between two citizens of Uxbridge. His 
religious life was that rare development where the 
inner spirit keeps pace with and even goes beyond 


the outward observance. A testimony to the latter 
is a remembrance of him, "after he was ninety, tot- 
tering to his deacon's seat in the old Uxbridge 
meeting-house three miles from his home, even in 
inclement weather, thus showing his zeal to be in 
the place of worship." (From Mr. WiUiams's 

Through life, perhaps more than any other, this 
good grandfather, this man who looked far down 
the future and stormed the Father's throne with 
earnest prayers for all his descendants, was Mrs. 
Wheaton's ideal of the spiritual possibilities of the 
human soul; and it is certain that his early influ- 
ence must have had a far-reaching effect upon the 
best part of her own religious life. I truly believe 
that no praise would ever have been more sweet to 
her than the assurance, which might well have been 
given, that all her life long she had faithfully fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of this most beloved grand- 
father. In fact, that his grandchildren almost wor- 
shipped his memory is the word of mouth that 
came to me through many years from a number of 
them, and still his great-grandchildren are glad to 
do him reverence,^ 

^ In a collateral line was Hodijah Baylies, a great-uncle of 
Eliza, a man of great beauty of face and figure and of a winning 
personality. He was aide-de-camp of General Benjamin 
Lincoln of Hingham, and also aide and personal friend of 
George Washington, was with him at the surrender of Corn- 


The stern tenets of the ancient theology were 
very hard for many sensitive souls. Such was his 
daughter Abigail, the mother of EHza. Her re- 
ligious life was at times darkened by personal 
fears, which in the last days happily gave way to 
a more sustained assurance; those last days, at- 
tended by the two devoted daughters, that passed 
away so peacefully upon a lofty Uxb ridge hilltop, 
with all the glory of orchard and river, sunrise 
and sunset, daily before her in the home of her 
daughter, Mary Judson. Here Eliza often came 
to care for her and soothe her with all the love 
and tenderness that a daughter could give, and 
here she died, having survived her husband less 
than three years. 

That in her youth she possessed the notable 
skill of the early times is attested by the beautiful 
linen in existence, so greatly prized by her descend- 
ants, which is her handiwork, spun and woven 
by herself; some of it heavy, some fine and hemmed 
with dainty old-time stitches, and some in a very 

wallis and afterwards lived with him at Mt. Vernon until he 
came North and married Elizabeth, the daughter of General 
Lincoln. An uncle, Hon. Nicholas Baylies, was judge of the 
Supreme Court of Vermont and also held other offices. He 
was a jurist of prominence and the author of several legal works. 
Another uncle, Dr. Gustavus Baylies, attained great promi- 
nence in his profession. His daughters, Hannah, Betsy, and 
Mary, were cousins with whom Eliza kept up a life-long in- 


beautiful ornamental weave, all marked with her 
initials, A. B., done in silk in the dehcate cross- 
stitch fashion of the sampler days. 

She was married in her father's home to Henry 
Chapin of Uxbridge, in November, 1793. He was 
born in Mendon, the son of Gershom Chapin of 
that place, who afterwards settled in Uxbridge. 
Of what I may have been told about him I can 
remember but little, it is all in a mist, — save that 
his children spoke of him with much affection and 
respect, and always referred to him as a "good 
man," a "godly man." He and his wife Abigail 
lived for a long time in and near Northbridge, 
where they raised a large family. Out of ten chil- 
dren, the last two died in infancy. The others were 
as follows: Henry Chapin, Jr., born in November, 
1794, Adolphus, Judson, Nicholas Baylies, Mary, 
George, Eliza Baylies, born in 1809, Samuel Aus- 
tin, born in 1 8 1 1 . George ran away to sea, and was 
never seen again nor even heard from but once, 
through a wandering sailor, many, many years 
after. I remember, as a tiny girl, my wonder at the 
thrill of excitement that ran through both fami- 
lies, my father's and Aunt Mary's, because news 
had come to them of Uncle George; it was Hke 
hearing a voice from the dead, but the voice was 
never heard again. 

After a time the parents, Henry and Abigail, 


and their sons, Henry, Jr., Adolphus, Nicholas, 
and Austin, settled in White Pigeon, Michigan. 
In this region they bought large tracts of public 
lands, and engaged in farming and mercantile 
business, building, etc.; here Adolphus and Austin, 
as first and second lieutenants of the militia under 
Major-General Williams, took an active part in 
the Black Hawk War; here some of them remained 
a number of years, and here at last the father and 
his sons, Henry, Jr., and Nicholas, died within a 
few years of each other, the mother finding a home 
with her daughter Mary in Uxbridge. 

From the father's side Mrs. Wheaton inherited 
a sturdy strain, iron in the blood. The Chapin 
descent is traced back through a cloud of deacons 
and " pillars " to Deacon Samuel Chapin, who came 
over from England, landing at Boston, and was one 
of the first settlers of Springfield, Massachusetts; 
the man whom Saint-Gaudens took for the proto- 
type of his statue of "The Puritan." He is well 
known as one of the most prominent men in the 
early history of Springfield. He was appointed 
by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay 
Colony to govern Springfield, and he took part in 
King PhiHp's War. Among his descendants were 
Henry Ward Beecher and Dr. Edwin H. Chapin, 
the Universalist preacher so noted for his elo- 

[ 10] 

After King Philip's War, Josiah, the eldest son 
of Samuel, removed to Mendon. He was captain 
and also deputy for many years. He had re- 
ceived from his father a large government grant of 
property included in the present sites of Mendon 
and Milford. Says Ballou, in his " History of Mil- 
ford:" "He was honored with the highest muni- 
cipal and civil positions; and even after he had 
reached his octogenarian years, when he was sup- 
posed to excuse himself from active executive 
duties, his fellow citizens still insisted, by vote, 
that their less experienced officials should sit at 
the patriarch's feet for instructions how to dis- 
charge their duties." His eldest daughter, Mary 
Chapin, married Joseph Adams of Braintree, and 
their grandson was John Adams, second President 
of the United States. Josiah's eldest son, Seth, — 
better known as Captain Seth, of Milford, — "was 
welcomed to the front rank of official dignity, and 
finally closed a life of seventy-eight years with 
very similar manifestations of public confidence 
and respect to those enjoyed by his honored father." 
(Ballou.) Captain Seth was captain of the Mas- 
sachusetts Colonial forces at Mendon in 1714, 
and was repeatedly after that Representative to 
the Colonial General Court from Mendon. 

Joseph Chapin, an exemplary citizen of Milford, 
was the son of Captain Seth, and Gershom was the 

[ II] 

second son of Joseph. He lived in Milford, and 
later in Uxbridge, and saw action in the Colonial 
Wars, marching in 1757 to the relief of Fort 
William Henry under Colonel WilHams. His son 
Henry, also captain (of militia), was the father of 

To go back still further: it has long been a tra- 
dition in the Chapin family, which researches of 
late years appear to have estabhshed as a fact, that 
the Chapins were originally French Huguenots 
descended from Hugh Capet (coming from Nor- 
mandy, v/here a village now retains their name); 
that they came first to England and thence to 
America, having outdone the English themselves 
in becoming Puritans of the Puritans. 

Iron wills, strong principles and beliefs, deep 
religious impulses, and often much executive 
ability have characterized many of this immense 
family, the Puritan sternness often tempered with 
a large degree of geniality. Physically, also, many 
of them were of a strong type; some were tall above 
the average, not many generations back one son of 
Anak in a collateral Hne, Ephraim Chapin (he 
was a great-uncle of Eliza), recording seven feet or 
more to his height. 



I WILL quote from the autobiographical sketch of 
Samuel Austin Chapin, Mrs. Wheaton's brother, 
for whom Chapin Hall was named: "I have very 
pleasant recollections of my childhood with my 
sister Eliza, who was two years older than myself, 
and was my ever-present companion to ramble 
about the green fields, and in the autumn to gather 
shellbarks and chestnuts. I shall ever carry with 
me a friendly regard for that old home and farm of 
my early childhood on Northbridge Hill. . . . The 
'great September gale' made a deep impression of 
wonder and then of terror. It occurred September 
23, 18 15, when I was four years old. No other such 
destructive and extensive hurricane was known 
during the century. Trees were uprooted, buildings 
blown down, and roofs and chimneys were torn 
off in vast numbers. My father and brother were 
engaged in liberating the sheep from a portion of 
the barn which was blown down, while my mother, 
Eliza, and myself were huddled together in the 
house, expecting every moment to be blown away. 

[ 13] 

My brother Judson came to get us out of the house 
and take refuge behind a great double wall (yet 
standing) at the barnyard. They held on to me and 
got me there in safety, but Eliza was blown away 
against a portion of the barn which had fallen, and 
she was badly bruised. We still have great affec- 
tion forthat old stone wall which gave us shelter. . . . 
" When I was about six years of age, my father 
sold this farm in Northbridge and bought one in 
Sutton, embracing a water power with a sawmill 
and a blacksmith's shop. The sawmill gave em- 
ployment to my brother Judson, and my brother 
Henry, having become a scythe maker, took charge 
of the blacksmith's shop and manufactured scythes 
in large quantities. He finally took with him a 
large invoice of scythes for Ohio and settled at 
Xenia. He did not again return to New England, 
but removed to Michigan in 1830 with his teams 
and flocks and became a wealthy and prosperous 
farmer. We were about one mile from North- 
bridge Hill, which was our place to attend church. 
We were about the same distance from Elder 
Boomer's Baptist church, where I often went. We 
were favored with a good new brick schoolhouse 
within a few rods of our home. It was here that 
I took my first lessons in swimming, skating, fish- 
ing, and coasting. In coasting my sister Eliza was 
ever with me, and we made a fine success of it on 

[ H] 

a large scoop coal shovel from the blacksmith's 
shop till we had nearly worn it out by carrying 
double down the long hill. When Houghton, the 
smith, knew what we were doing, we were not very 
happy. . . . 

"When I was twelve years of age we moved 
to Baylies Hill in Uxbridge, near Grandfather 
Baylies's, about one mile from the Sutton home. 
From this home I walked one mile and a half to the 
* Brick Academy' at Uxbridge Centre, where I com- 
pleted my academic studies under Squire Jaquith." 

We see that this brings Eliza very near the dear 
grandfather, close to the old BayHes homestead, 
where she and the little Austin had often found such 
delight in a visit to the grandparents. Let us take a 
look at the place where Nicholas Baylies hved. 

The house is a rambling, interesting old structure 
of unusual size and much dignity and impressive- 
ness in spite of its ruined condition, evidently built 
with its various accretions to accommodate patri- 
archal numbers. The multitudinous small Hghts in 
the many windows, the old-fashioned panelHng of 
the outer doors, with small squares of glass high up 
and transom lights across the top, the old style 
framing about the front doorway, and the general 
air about the house and grounds, all attest its vener- 
ableness. Various traditions are held regarding it; 
one is that the large farm connected with it (through 

[ 15] 

which runs the town boundary) was a part of the 
great tract of land "taken up" by the father of the 
first wife of Nicholas, who was Abigail Wood of 
Uxbridge and EHza's grandmother. At any rate, the 
young Nicholas was only twenty or twenty-one 
when he married, and here he lived a long life and 
brought up a large family; here, too, must have 
been formed some of the deepest impressions of 
Eliza's youth. To these early impressions was 
doubtless due the fervently religious attitude of all 
her future life. 

Her tenacious attachment to friends and relatives 
was one of her strongest traits; although in this 
large family there were many brothers and sisters, 
for certain reasons, partly because of close associa- 
tion in later life, some of them were much nearer to 
her than others, though all were dear. 

Adolphus, the second son, when for a long time 
his parents, with but slender means, suffered from 
feeble health, put aside for many years the thought 
of marital ties, and devoted himself to be their stay; 
and it was he who helped the young girl Eliza to her 
education, most richly repaid to his daughter in 
after years. To him Eliza turned instinctively for 
tender comfort and wise advice in various times of 
bereavement and trouble. He was a quiet, unas- 
suming man, but nevertheless, and for all his gen- 
tleness and tenderness, he was also a man of will 

[ i6] 






power, great accuracy, and most reliable judgment. 
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Wheaton must 
have felt for a time in her bewilderment as if the 
world's hand were turned against her; she who had 
been so shielded from serious business cares was 
overwhelmed with a formidable array of properties 
to dispose of, affairs to settle, lawsuits impending. 
In these difficulties she appealed to this much older 
brother, whose calmness and good judgment were 
her chief aid in piloting her through these shoals. 
One lawsuit was carried to a successful issue, the 
others were averted, and the various matters were 
finally so arranged that her wonderful business 
faculties had time to assert themselves, and she 
assumed that firm control of business matters 
which was never fully relaxed until her death. 

The sister Mary was the only sister who lived. 
Another died in infancy. Six years of difference in 
age is but a trifle, which in maturity counts for no- 
thing; in many ways Mary and Eliza were much 
alike, physically and mentally, and seldom have 
two sisters been so united heart and soul through a 
long life and so blessed with opportunities for fre- 
quent intercourse. One year before the marriage of 
Ehza, this sister Mary was herself married to Wil- 
lard Judson, son of Rev. Samuel Judson of Ux- 
bridge. In the course of years their new home was 
built on another hilltop just above the village; and 

[ 17] 

here later on came the filial son, the long-confirmed 
bachelor Adolphus, with his newly acquired wife 
Cynthia, to establish his household gods within a 
stone's throw of " Sister Mary's." Uxbridge, beau- 
tiful Uxbridge, with its woods and waters, was set 
in the glory of the hills, and these two homes were 
enfolded in clouds of apple-blossoms, looking out 
over green valleys and the white morning mists that 
rise above the Blackstone to other orchards and 
villages and other hills beyond; a place of sweetness 
and quiet, of sunsettings and sunrisings. For over 
forty-five years these lovely hilltops were Mrs. 
Wheaton's dearest Mecca, or rather might we say 
that, like Christian, she journeyed on for a time 
until she came to the chamber called Peace, where 
she slumbered for a night. As she herself expressed 
it, in a day of sorrow, "These visits do make green 
spots in my pilgrimage." 

Another brother, older than herself, was Judson, 
and as he settled in West Roxbury, not very far from 
Norton, many delightful visits were exchanged. 
A certain sweetness and clarity of expression 
always dominated his features, and I think that he 
had less of the stern Puritan element that existed 
in the others, though in all largely intermingled 
with softer, sweeter traits. The others were ex- 
tremely orthodox and as fond of a tough theological 
nut as Mrs. Stowe's people in "Oldtown Folks:" 

[ .8] 

his views were different, for though he beheved in 
as well as Hved a consistent Christian life, he never 
could believe that salvation depended on an emo- 
tional experience and an intellectual assent. The 
sister EHza grieved for years over her ineffectual 
attempts to "convert" this most dearly beloved 
brother, this beautiful Christian, to her own theo- 
logical views in order to save his soul. But late in 
life she indicated, perhaps indirectly, that she had 
come to hope that God's goodness and a life lived 
in the spirit of Christ might after all be greater 
than the measure of the creeds. Theological dif- 
ferences had never hindered the full satisfying in- 
terchange of brotherly and sisterly affection. 

Judson's home was also a delightful one. The 
house itself was one of those unpretentious, old- 
fashioned houses that we wish could last forever, 
there is such an atmosphere of charm about them; 
low ceilings, small window-panes, choice old ma- 
hogany inside, — among other pieces a beautiful, 
treasured old desk that belonged to the father, 
Henry Chapin, — a garden outside where the sweet 
old-fashioned things were glad to grow; those in- 
tangible voices everywhere in the air that sing of a 
very happy home. 

But the darling of Eliza's heart was her brother 
Austin. Very near her own age, their childhood 
was passed together in constant companionship 

[ -9] 

of play and study, of childish duties and joys and 
sorrows, and many times has she indicated that 
this was a bond of peculiar strength, never to be 
broken. A portion of Austin's married life was 
spent in Norton, and after his removal to Cali- 
fornia there were occasional visits that were hailed 
with great delight. Later, when the strong man, 
whose life in a certain sense had been a warfare, 
— with danger and death in the early pioneer days 
of California and Nevada, in those wild mountain 
mines, and afterwards with the pressure of busi- 
ness cares and many interests, — in weariness felt 
the memories of his childhood thronging upon 
him like waves beating with irresistible force, she 
opened her heart and house to him and to his 
gentle wife, and for a number of years thereafter 
her life was made very much happier ^by his pre- 

It is something which unfortunately is not al- 
ways and everywhere achieved, but in this con- 
nection it may be well to say that Mrs. Wheaton's 
relations with all her sisters-in-law and also with 
the one brother-in-law were of the happiest. 
There was never any change in this pleasant, 
loving intercourse which lasted as long as life. 

These are a few of those whose love was like 
many garlands that wreathed about her from her 
childhood to old age; so continuous and closely 


woven were these garlands that it seemed im- 
possible to make a break in them, but now, rose 
by rose, we must find our way back to her girlhood 

The academies that preceded the high schools 
and seminaries of Massachusetts were many of 
them notable institutions for that day, and among 
them the Uxbridge Academy took high rank. 
This school, which first opened in 1820, was at- 
tended by Mary, Eliza, and Austin. For some 
years the principal was Mr. Abiel Jacques (Squire 
Jaquith), a Harvard graduate and a man of cul- 
tivated mind. Though eccentric, he seemed to 
have a talent for teaching and for developing the 
minds of his pupils, inciting them to effort and 
retaining their love and respect. It was while 
Eliza was studying at this academy and living in 
the family of Amariah Chapin, who was a cousin 
of her father and a successful merchant in this 
place, that she became acquainted with her future 
husband. The l^^et school that she attended was 
the Young Ladies' High School, in Boston. Eben- 
ezer Bailey was the principal and Miss Maria 
Weston the preceptress. Among carefully trea- 
sured relics were a catalogue of this school and a 
presentation copy to "Miss E. B. Chapin, from 
her friend, E. B.," of a spirited prize ode, "Tri- 
umphs of Liberty," written by Mr. Bailey. Shortly 


after this she was married to Laban Morey 
Wheaton of Norton, son of Judge Wheaton, the 
marriage taking place at Uxbridge in the house 
on the hill (everything spoke of the hilltops 
there), which was the home of her sister Mary 
Judson, not very far from that later residence 
where the Judsons lived so many years and where 
they died. 

Imagine this June bride of nineteen, a tall, 
slender sHp of a girl, clad in the wedding robe that 
still exists, a soft white India muslin in the simple 
fashion of the day, with baby waist and narrow 
ruffles edged with thread lace some distance above 
the hem of the straight skirt. She was a hand- 
some, dignified creature, this young girl with her 
chestnut-auburn hair, probably confined by a 
high comb, her slender oval face, small fine straight 
nose, and blue eyes that showed a gentle direct- 
ness and seriousness of purpose. Indeed, it was 
her girlish dignity even more than her beauty 
that finally captured the heart of Mr. Wheaton. 
He had already built the beautiful house that was 
to receive his bride. When she entered it the three 
elms standing guard in front were even then so 
majestic that she thought them very old.^ From 

^ Many years ago one of these elms seemed to be dying. 
Professor Russell, who lectured at the Seminary on Botany at 
that time, was called upon to give a diagnosis, and he pro- 


that hour, for seventy-six long years, these faith- 
ful sentinels were to keep their silent watch and 
ward over the home and life of this girlish bride, 
while the home itself became an integral part of 
her being. With naturally a strong attachment to 
all places associated with those dear to her, her 
young heart sent out deep roots down into the 
soil of this new home, and here love, which was 
her soul, her very self, blossomed into fruition. 
Delightful journeys were often her pleasure, but 
always the return was a greater joy, like the swift, 
glad flight of a homing pigeon. 

Norton itself she took to dwell within her heart 
of hearts. A suggestion looking towards a change 
of residence was received with anything but en- 
thusiasm, though she was ready to yield to an- 
other's wish. 

It is in this way that she writes of that much- 
loved place: "There I would hope to live and there 
would I wish my spirit might take its upward 
flight to God and my body mingle with the dust 
till it is raised incorruptible." This deep affection 
has shown itself in many ways, and was never 

nounced the trouble to be that its water-supply had been cut ofF. 
It proved that a well, long disused and filled with elm-roots, 
had been cleaned out and brought into service again, thus rob- 
bing the tree of its accustomed supply of water. The well was 
given up to the tree and the tree was speedily restored to 


quenched by grief and trouble, nor by years; as 
she has told me more than once, it was the love 
for Norton, for the surrounding country, and 
above all for the daughters of the town and the 
region roundabout, her heart's desire that they 
might receive greater educational privileges, that 
gave birth to the idea of Wheaton Seminary, 
which was her only child. 




The new home, whose stately entrance sym- 
bolized its generous hospitality, was for several 
generations the meeting-place of scores of friends 
of the genial master of the house and its kindly 
chatelaine; and in time these shadowy figures, 
flitting in and out, promenading the garden walks 
and pleasant grove, are seen to be, in many cases, 
figures of import in the history of Wheaton Semi- 
nary. This dim procession of ^' ces Dames du 
Temps Jadis^'' — oh, for some nobler Villon to 
sing the praises of these ladies of bygone days, 
whose eyes were bright and faces fair, whose 
minds were fountains of strength and wisdom, 
whose hearts were wells of purity and the love of 
God ! Here they came for consultation, for friend- 
ship, for rest and relaxation. Among them was 
the noble Mary Lyon, and with her Miss Caldwell, 
like a brave young knight on an unknown quest. 
Here were also the queenly Miss Vose of the flash- 
ing eyes and nimble wit; the blue-eyed Miss 


Knight of the silver tongue; that Lady Eloquent, 
Miss Martha Sawyer, full of grace in face and 
form, in thought and in expression; that mistress 
of the flowing line, beloved Lucy Larcom; and 
others too, many of them in the heyday of their 
youth. Their high purposes did not preclude the 
enjoyments natural to their years. In this shelter- 
ing home, on neutral ground, these dignified young 
principals and teachers could sometimes cast aside 
their panoply of state, and for the moment give 
care the cold shoulder and be girls together; there 
was the flash of wit with merry jest, and girlish 
pranks were played, and — let me whisper it in 
your ear — even Cupid himself was allowed to 
enter these friendly portals. 

Let us make the better acquaintance of the 
master of the house. Doubtless he was an Epi- 
curean, dropped by mistake into a Puritan nest. 
By nature he was fond of pleasure and gayety, of 
friendship, of luxury, and all beautiful things; by 
training and environment he was deeply imbued 
with the severest ideas of those early days. Among 
his memoranda, evidently carried in a pocketbook, 
was found a tiny scrap of paper bearing five max- 
ims. They are excellent ones, and from what I 
know of him I feel sure that he had followed them in 
his Hfe: "i. Never regret what is unintentionally 
lost. 2. Never believe that which seems impossible. 







3- Never expose your disappointments to the world. 
4. Never complain of being ill-used. 5. Always 
speak well of your friends; of your enemies say 
nothing." He was a faithful and generous friend; 
the expression of his face was very kindly, indicative 
of his disposition, and there was often a pleasant 
smile, with a humorous twinkle about the eyes. 

A passionate lover of flowers, he was always sur- 
rounded by them, his gardens being of the charm- 
ing old-fashioned type, box-bordered, full of all 
manner of blooms yielding their perfume in every 
season; the greenhouses too, though partly filled 
with luscious grapes, the clear white and the rich 
Black Hamburg, were also devoted to flowers; 
and the house through many months was full of 
them everywhere, in attic, in back entry, in the 
deep embrasure of wide sunny front windows, in 
the upper hall, in drawing-room and sitting-room; 
everywhere was the scent of rose and heliotrope, 
of stephanotis and carnation, the jewelled droop 
of crimson cactus, the rosy oleanders, and the 
lemon and orange trees in fruit and flower that 
claimed their corners of the rooms. 

He enjoyed music, and one of Mrs. Wheaton's 
pictures of the home-life represents him "in the 

drawing-room playing the flute while M is at 

the piano." 

Fond as he was of the pleasures of the table, the 


least indulgence was dearly paid for by terrible 
headaches, and in spite of early tastes, he was a vig- 
orous champion of the temperance cause. 

He hked and generally kept fine blooded horses, 
and all through their married Hfe Mr. and Mrs. 
Wheaton were accustomed to take long drives 
through the country, going delightfully on and on 
from town to town, through lovely forest roads, 
sometimes for days together. We can imagine them 
stopping on the way home to pick barberries, which 
were preserved the next day. 

They were often accompanied by their coach dog 
Romeo, a curious creature with leopard-Hke spots 
that still lives in a faint old daguerreotype, and that 
apparently was held in high regard in proportion to 
the trouble he gave them, for he was always run- 
ning away. One or more dogs always formed part 
of the establishment, and in my day, a sign of 
portent. Beware of the Dogy was generally affixed 
to the front of the carriage house. Sometimes the 
defender was a toothless old fellow, too old for 
further action, and sometimes a fierce young beast, 
ready for the fray. It was regarding one of the lat- 
ter sort that Ellen Beane once said that she wished 
"it would please the Lord to remove him." And 
greatly did she exult in his demise! 

Many of the drives were to "Sister Mary's," or 
" Brother Adolphus's," or "Brother Judson's," for 


very frequent was the exchange of visits between 
the families, and often "Sister Mary" herself and 
"Brother Willard" would take their chaise and 
pony and join in these charming journeys. Mr. 
Wheaton's hospitality was unbounded and his 
geniality winning, especially when with friends of 
his choice. Mrs. Wheaton's love for her own circle 
of relatives was lasting as life, and Mr. Wheaton 
seemed to adopt them all as his very own. 

Although these two married people were so un- 
like, yet they seemed to be admirably adapted to 
each other, and their mutual love was deep and 
abiding. In 1848 Mrs. Wheaton was for a long time 
in Brooklyn for medical treatment, and the love 
letters of this woman who had been married for 
nineteen years are full of expressions that show the 
tenderness of her attachment for husband and 
home. This passionate daughter of the Puritans, — 
only the New Englander by birth or by inheritance 
can understand the fires that blaze beneath these 
Puritan snows, — under her stately dignity and 
reserve was love unquenchable; love for husband, 
for relatives and friends, for home, for her religion. 
Every turning of her life shows this; the world itself 
was not too large to hold within the embrace of her 
great heart; forever flowed upon all around her the 
affluent waves of her desire to yield tenderness, ser- 
vice, generosity, help, and love. 


She writes to her husband, whom she misses: 
" Your letters will be one of my sweetest sources of 
pleasure. Your dear sober face is by me. I value it 

above price. Mrs. B says she never saw a more 

perfect likeness. It is your usual expression. There 
is a more cheerful one you often have that I would 
have chosen, but if I could not have that, nothing 
would tempt me to part with what I have," This 
to her friend Miss Martha Sawyer (Mrs. Holmes), 
whom she often called "Sister Mattie," greatly to 
the mystification of strangers, who could never 
determine whether the ladies were sisters in fact 
or by affection : " My very dear sister, I watched 
the carriage that took you both away till it turned 
from my sight. I found my way to Fulton Street, 
but did not want to take an omnibus; my eyes 
were too much like April clouds (though a thick 
veil covered them) to be looked at very steadily." 
In this passage she refers to the adopted son: 
"Yesterday I sat and sewed on my dear boy's 
shirt till my arm ached very hard and does to- 
day from the effects of it. As I think of La and 
his long, long silence, I do feel grieved. I long to 
see him." One day she started for New York: "It 
was Saturday evening, you know, and it seemed 
that everybody was coming over to Brooklyn. I 
began to feel rather queer about going, but I kept 
on, and found there were some folks left in New 


York, — and some, too, to return in the ferry-boat 
when I did." 

She wishes Mr. Wheaton to wear "the fashion- 
ably long" white vests that gentlemen are wearing 
these warm days. "I can but think one would be 
very becoming to my husband. . . . 'T is such as you 
were married in, when 'you never looked so well 
before.' They are a very genteel dress with a black 
cravat to which you are so partial." Undoubtedly 
he bought the vests! She tells him of her adventure 
with a little dog: "After crossing over the ferry 
yesterday, a little fox-colored dog came trotting to 
me and gazed into my face with a most kind, con- 
fiding look, and seemed to say, 'Why, I am all 
alone too, I'll go with you and be your little dog.' 
So on he went with me, every now and then peep- 
ing into my face with apparent delight. Occasion- 
ally he would run back a few steps and smell the 
feet of others, and as I passed through one group 
of people after another, I thought he would take 
another friend. But no! he followed me in this 
way without the least invitation on my part except 
kind looks, till I reached the Astor House, through 
crowd and bustle. There some rude boys shoved 
him off into the street, and as I went down towards 
Church Street I saw no more of him. He was un- 
muzzled and doubtless from the country Hke my- 
self. I felt queer to have him follow me. I thought 

[3> ] 

of asking some boys to coax him to stop till I 
was out of sight, but that seemed too much Hke be- 
traying confidence. To appreciate the interview 
you should have seen it, as nothing but that would 
convey to your mind his expressive looks and 


She writes her "Sister Mattie" minute directions 
about the housekeeping, about having the grass 
often cut short on the lawn, and so on in careful 
detail. Her delight is expressed over her letters: 
"As for the bag and contents! I was almost over- 
come with joy. That package of letters! Oh, how 
my heart leaped at the sight of it. The seals full of 
meaning, 'good news,' assured me I had nothing to 
fear. And those flowers, so sweet and beautiful! I 
felt they came all smiling from my dear home, fra- 
grant with the heart's best affections and laden with 
wishes for a joyful welcome. It is not enough to 
breathe their fragrance, but I love to press them to 
my Hps." 

Mrs. Holmes, the "Sister Mattie," was Hke a 
dear younger sister not only to herself, but to Mr. 
Wheaton. For years the close companionship con- 
tinued, and when the family (the Holmes family) 
left Norton permanently, Mrs. Wheaton bewails 
their loss: "The morning train took Lottie (Miss 
Charlotte Sav^er) and Mattie. So their home is 
deserted and no more of their pleasant offices and 


kindly sympathy." In spite of parting this friend- 
ship continued through life. 

The Wild family was also intimately connected 
with the Wheatons, George Wild, Sr., being a cou- 
sin of Mr. Wheaton, and an elder brother of Laban, 
the adopted child. Mr. Wheaton was interested in 
so many business and public matters that he 
needed some one with whom to share the responsi- 
bility and care of his various properties, especially 
when absent on long journeys, and well was this 
burden carried by Mr. Wild, who was a complete 
encyclopedia of information, besides being a man 
of great business capacity and energy. After Mr. 
Wheaton's death his widow found here one who 
looked after her interests as faithfully as his own. 
Mr. Wild dying in his turn, his son Alfred, who is 
like him in many ways, continued this superin- 
tendence with much ability and the same invalua- 
ble spirit of fidelity. Mrs. Wild and Mrs. Wheaton 
were more Hke sisters than neighbors, and the chil- 
dren were among those especially dear to the latter. 
The daughter Mary ardently loved and admired 
her, and the love was reciprocated by giving Mary 
much the same place in her affections that her own 
nieces enjoyed. There were pleasant days recorded 
when she took Lizzy (Mrs. Wild) and the children 
chestnutting, when she "went graping" with them, 
when she went to walk in Neck Woods with "Laby," 

1 33] 

and they "found four young woodcock, — caught 
two and let them go;" anxious days when Georgy 
and little Mary were very sick with typhus fever, 
and she helped care for them and sat through the 
night by the bedside of the dehrious boy. 

Laban Wild, a young cousin of Mr. Wheaton, 
was born in Boston in 1835, and was adopted by 
the Wheatons when three years old, taking the 
name of his adopted father, Laban M. Wheaton, 
Mrs. Wheaton often used to speak of him in a most 
loving, reminiscent manner, and certain mementoes 
of his childhood were tenderly preserved, especially 
a little low chair in which he used to sit by her side. 
Her journal says, "He was a lovely little boy, 
though his mother told us before we took him she 
did n't know what to do with him, he was so head- 
strong." Mrs. Wheaton found no special difficulty 
for some weeks, when she attempted to teach him 
his letters, and was confronted by a fit of calm 
obstinacy. These seasons of obstinacy would occa- 
sionally come upon him as long as he stayed with 
the Wheatons, and at such times he was kept in his 
room till he yielded, when he came out. Mrs. 
Cyrus W. Allen writes of him: " I remember Laban 
when he first came to your house, a Httle boy, 
bright and interesting. I remember him as he was 
the first time you took him to church. I can per- 
fectly recall his looks as you presented him for bap- 


tism. He looked very pale, as if the solemnity of the 
occasion awed him. I can see him now in his little 
green coat. I remember a day which I spent at 
your house, how he amused himself all day playing 
the merchant, talking incessantly, and asking in- 
numerable questions, some of which would puzzle 
wiser heads than ours to answer." Mrs. Judson 
writes after his death: "No event for a long time 
has so moved the fountain of tears as the death of 
this poor boy. My mind goes back to the time when 
you first brought him toUxbridge some fifteen years 
ago, and follows him on some years as the most 
lovely and perfect child — so fascinating that many 
of his ways and sayings will be remembered as long 
as I live: later on, you begin to feel 'anxious about 
Laban,' you pray for him with great fervency and 
affection, and adopt the language of Abraham, *0 
that Laban might live before Thee.' " 

I take it from all that I have read of him and 
heard from Mrs. Wheaton's Hps that he was a boy 
with certain serious faults difficult to eradicate and 
of a temperament that must have required peculiar 
treatment. It would appear that excessive strict- 
ness might be as disastrous for him in one way as 
too great freedom in another. It is certain that he 
was very lovable and attractive, that he had many 
good qualities; but it seems that he might have been 
rather unsuitably placed at school. The last school 


that he attended was of confessedly rigid require- 
ments. As the principal says, " We mark all irregu- 
larities, and a very limited number sends a boy 
home." This principal writes wisely and kindly 
about Laban, appreciative of his good traits, but 
frankly says that this school is not the place for him. 
Unfortunately he fell to the tender mercies of a 
man not like the principal, but very like a stick 
attired in clergyman's garb. The result of such a 
situation might easily be foreseen. The marks took 
him home. There was also a personal break in his 
relations with the Wheatons; something had been 
said and done, I do not know what. About two 
years later he writes them from his home in Newark. 
He has found employment in New York with a 
large wholesale firm and shows a dehghtful boyish 
pride in his promotion, in the confidence of the 
firm, for he goes on board vessels getting bills of 
lading signed, he collects notes and pays bills, thus 
being responsible at times for large sums of money 
with which he is intrusted. The letter rings with 
sincerity and is inexpressibly touching, there is such 
a mingling of manly independence with a regret for 
the wrong things said and done, such a longing for 
the hitherto unappreciated affection that had been 
bestowed upon him, a sense of loss from the "want 
of some one to look up to, and to direct [him] in the 
way which is right." 


Six months after this he was taken ill with 
typhoid pneumonia, which resulted in his death. 
From the beginning of his sickness, he continually 
called for his father and mother Wheaton, espe- 
cially for the latter. They both hastened to him, but 
they could not grant his eager request, " Could n't 
you wrap me up and carry me to Norton ?" for 
they knew the journey would be fatal to him. 
When the boy, scarcely eighteen, died, his body was 
brought to Norton, where the funeral services were 
held in church (the seminary girls walking with the 
mourners), and then was buried in the Wheaton lot 
on the Common. 

His adopted parents sorrowed greatly at his 
death. Perhaps their best comfort was that sug- 
gested by "Sister Cynthia" in a letter to Mrs. 
Wheaton. " It must be some alleviation of your sor- 
row to reflect that you were with him to soothe him 
in his sickness, and that, though not restored to 
your family circle, he was restored to your hearts 
and regarded you with filial affection." 

Though there was never after this any child in 
the Wheaton home, Mrs. Wheaton manifested love 
for many children. The Holmes children were 
great favorites, frequently visiting at her house. 
Here is a bit of fine insight into the heart of a child 
for a childless woman to compass. A little girl, a 
niece, from the invalidism of her father was rather 


restricted in her childish companionships and plays, 
and scarcely knew what it was to have a pet; she 
longed for a dog, hence this letter to the father: 
"I think I should let her have a dog if I were you, 
if you do not this one. She craves something to 
pet and will have it somehow or other — either 
companions or animals, and this may be the least 
objectionable way of satisfying the cravings of her 
nature. You must try and meet these calls of her 
young heart in some way." Although in feeble 
health at times, she was not too much absorbed 
in her own troubles to write letters to her juvenile 
friends, and to repeat to this same little girl the 
story of " Enoch Arden " and tales from the " Way- 
side Inn." 

When Annette, her brother Austin's child, was 
ill in Uxbridge, she went there to care for her, and 
then took her to her own home; when another 
daughter, Ella, died, she was heartbroken as if 
herself the mother. A visit to this kindly house 
was indeed a treat, and many are the nephews 
and nieces that have entered within its gates. This 
affection has always followed a large circle of 
them as they grew up to manhood and woman- 
hood, some with children of their own, and it was 
a love that has shown itself in manifold practical 
details of personal care and generosity. 

When we remember that Mrs. Wheaton was 


born as long ago as 1809, we can better appreciate 
the survival in her house of an ancient and inter- 
esting New England custom, — the keeping of 
Saturday night. Whatever we might do in the 
privacy of our rooms was a matter of individual 
conscience, but downstairs the Sabbath began at 
sundown. Business matters were suspended, and 
we were not expected to bring our sewing or fancy 
work into the sitting-room Saturday evening, nor 
to do anything unsuitable to the near approach of 
the Sabbath, which was rigidly kept in those days 
in many families of Puritan descent. When Sun- 
day night came, the strictness of observance was 
relaxed, so that any necessary business letters 
were written or affairs attended to that could not 
conveniently be left over to the next day. During 
the latter part of Mrs. Wheaton's life this custom 
was dropped, partially at least. 

To one who has known Mrs. Wheaton only in 
the last decades of her life, when she was absorbed 
in large affairs or gently fading into the twilight, 
it seems odd to think of her as immersed in house- 
hold cares, as often making butter with her own 
hands, or looking after the packing of apples on 
the back piazza, the cutting and packing of pork, 
the pruning of trees, busy in caring for the rooms, 
or waging the housekeeper's insurgent war of 
spring; yet she took great delight in her household 


duties (all except the "buttering," which she dis- 
liked), and everything was under her personal 
supervision. Many were the pies of mince and 
golden squash, the cakes galore, the plum pud- 
dings and custards, prepared by her for festal occa- 
sions and for daily use. I can assure you that 
they were excellent, that the pies were well worth 
the extreme penalty which might attach to the 
disposal of them, while the plum puddings were 
a dream of bliss. 

Mrs. Wheaton was a diligent seamstress and 
not unacquainted with the mysteries of embroid- 
ery, as some trifles testify, laid aside unfinished a 
half century ago. Another silent witness is a skein 
of floss. Silkworms were raised and fed on mul- 
berry leaves in the carriage house, but the result 
did not reach as far as the loom. There was remain- 
ing only this soft mass of creamy floss. 

A recollection of one of my first visits to Norton 
is that my aunt took me about the place and told 
me of this experiment in silkworm raising, and also 
of her early household cares in the first days of 
her married life, dwelling with great pride on her 
milk rooms, for she enjoyed the care of the milk 
and cream, even if she did dislike the churning 
and working of the butter. Bees were kept for 
many years, and there was the honey to look after 
and divide among the neighbors. Don't you wish 


you had been there to receive some of this "lucent 
honey dripping from the comb" ? You know the 
long path, box-bordered, between the ranks of 
currant bushes that ran down so far back of the 
house, where there is a bit of an orchard. The 
hives were kept in a line beyond at the left as you 
reached the end of the currant row, and there they 
remained for years after the bees and honey had 
disappeared. The currant row itself is reminiscent 
of my aunt in fruit time, of her jelly-making, the 
invitations to young seminarists and teachers to 
come "at sunset" and eat currants, to friends and 
neighbors to come and fill their baskets for their 
own jelly-making. 

The earher years of Mrs. Wheaton's marriage 
belonged, to a certain extent, to the golden age of 
American furniture. Many pieces of fine design 
were found in the houses of those days that later 
on were relegated to the garret, crowded out by 
the vandal black walnut. This house was no 
exception, but accumulated much of interest in 
the successive years. It is nothing but wooden 
stuff, you may say, but it has tongues that will 
speak to those whose memories go half-way back 
to meet it. The first dining-table that was used by 
the youthful Wheatons was a little square mahog- 
any affair, with slender legs and slight curves run- 
ning in on the sides at the places where people sit, 


as if desirous of encircling them with inviting em- 
brace. The china that graced the board in some 
of these early years was the old Canton blue, 
many pieces of which, having survived the on- 
slaughts of time, are now in the possession of 
some of Mrs. Wheaton's nieces. Do any of you 
remember the tiny washstands of Sheraton shape, 
one of them three-cornered, or that immense four- 
poster bedstead surmounted by apparent cannon- 
balls in gilded innocence ? There were charming 
mahogany bureaus, a much older mahogany chest 
of drawers set on claw feet grasping a ball; there 
were many beautiful mahogany tables of all sizes 
and styles, from the simplest form to those elabo- 
rately and heavily carved. One old desk is of spe- 
cial interest. It belonged to Judge Wheaton, and was 
for years used by him as a writing-desk. It is of 
the typical colonial form, with the ends of cherry, 
the rest of Honduras mahogany (much lighter 
than the San Domingo), having the usual brasses, 
the slides to support the top, and the secret drawer. 
Another piece of furniture, interesting from asso- 
ciation, is now in the possession of Mr. Alfred 
Wild, a relative of the Wheatons. It is a sturdy, 
plain old wooden office chair, with low back curv- 
ing around to the arm, the right-hand arm spread 
out to a great width to serve as a table. Here 
Judge Wheaton wrote, and on this table arm he 


mixed his toddies! This was before the days of 
the temperance revolution, you know. Bless your 
dear hearts, they all mixed toddies then! When I 
was a young girl attending the Seminary and hap- 
pily ensconced in the "long room" at my aunt's, 
this chair was temporarily bestowed upon me, with 
the hope expressed that I might find inspiration 
in it. But alas! the inspiration did not come 
through either toddy glass or pencil tip; for in 
that chair I underwent awful agonies in composi- 
tion of unruly essays, and I finally concluded that 
the magic of association did not always "make 

Among the quaint old types of chairs, the oldest 
were probably the lyre-backed or fiddle-backed, 
which so many will remember as having a place in 
the drawing-room. The seats were covered with 
a rich cream-colored damask, once rainbow bright 
with marvellous houses and trees, now softly faded, 
which was bought at auction from the sea chest 
of some defunct sea captain. Two other chairs, 
dear to many hearts, were the tiny low cathedral 
chairs, cushioned in crimson plush, in which 
through many succeeding decades young girls 
have sat at the feet of their worshipful elders: the 
"queen mother," as Mrs. Wheaton has been called, 
or the principal beloved and feared, or some favor- 
ite teacher of the heart's first choice. Behold as it 


fades into the past this procession of humble young 
things, fair Sauls at the feet of receding Gamaliels. 

Do you remember that piano, that ancient 
Chickering, whose sweet thin tinkle never gave way 
to the voice of any newer, more resounding in- 
strument ? And do some of you remember, in the 
drawing-room that afternoon of the "graduates' 
tea," that our greatest treat was when Mrs. Met- 
calf seated herself before it, and to our utmost 
delectation played to us her tune, her one and 
only, with one finger — or was it two .? And that is 
the very chair, the big dark crimson arm-chair 
with the fine carving atop where the dear lady 
always sat on these state occasions, the chair of 
honor reserved for her whom we all honored as the 
supremest of principals, the most unique, the 
wisest, kindest, firmest, and best, adored for her 
adorable pout, for her incisive speech, exulted in 
for her beauty, undimmed by age, — those tender 
falls of snow, those faint sweet roses of autumn 
time; undoubtedly she was a darling, though 
greatly revered, and it was in our hearts that we 
carried her. 

Oh, this old home is full of ghosts, dear, friendly 
comfortable ghosts, and everything in it utters 
speech. The beautiful Napoleonic profile of Miss 
Melius was often silhouetted against those walls, 
and then be sure that Miss Carter's fragile form 


was never far away. This was certainly a union of 
the oak and the vine. The Lady Eloquent was 
there again, once Miss Knight, now Mrs. Beane, 
white-haired, with mild, sweet face, and when she 
chose to expound high matters in those rounded 
periods of sonorous dignity, there was no question 
whether it were well to sit back and Hsten. Miss 
Carter's fine intellect busied itself with things 
abstruse, of rare import, while Miss Melius, we 
quivering with extreme delight, delivered her 
lordly pronunciamentos regarding the world and 
its affairs; Miss Carter's rippling laugh would be 
the answer, and Miss Melius, rising to take leave, 
would always wind up her remarks with this: 
"Now, Annie Carter, you know that it is thus and 
so'* (and it generally was)! These two of the 
"cottage" were great intimates at this house, and 
many happy weeks have the four spent together at 
the seaside and on their summer journeys. 

As these forms came and passed, two others per- 
haps may be said to have taken their place in the 
rooms and heart of the mistress of the mansion. At 
any rate, they were very dear to her: Miss Stanton, 
the beauty of whose distinguished presence, gra- 
cious dignity, and conversational charm was but the 
window through which shone the fine light of the 
inward spirit, and Miss Pike, whom one always 
remembers with that heavy crown of soft hair 

[45 3 

about her gentle face, the teacher and "house- 
mother" so dearly beloved of the girls for her 
unusual attainments, her quick insight and tender 
sympathy, she whose flying visits v^ere among the 
"greatest joys" of Mrs. Wheaton's later days. 

And so the procession interminably comes and 
goes. Black coats were in it, for many men of note, 
of affairs, of distinction, have had to do with 
Wheaton Seminary, and have consulted and visited 
at the Wheaton Mansion, but always in this house 
I see an endless shadov^r^ train of women, the very 
crown and flower of old New England. 



Mrs. Wheaton must have been married almost 
immediately upon leaving school, for her v^edding 
day was June 25, 1829, ^"^ 7^^ ^^^ name appears 
in the catalogue pubHshed in January, 1830, of the 
Young Ladies' High School in Boston. This was 
one of the very best of all the good schools for 
which Boston has always been noted. Among the 
168 names of the catalogue a large majority are 
those of well-known old Boston families, famed 
quite as much for their solidity of character as for 
their wealth and culture. The prospectus of the 
school shows that a sound Enghsh education was 
its first desideratum, though Professors were 
employed in French, ItaHan, Spanish, music, and 
dancing, these branches being counted as extras. 
The price of tuition was $80 a year — a very high 
price for those days. The regulations are such as 
to be a guarantee that the pupils would receive 
the best training both in character and habits. It 
is remarked, "The government of the school is 
strictly one of laws. The rules and regulations 
were formed by a committee, selected by the 

[ 47 ] 

scholars themselves." It is also said, "No scholars 
are required to go through the whole course; and 
few will be able to do so unless they begin at a very 
early age, and are constant in their attendance." 
This last clause seems rather severe, since school 
kept twelve months in the year, with no vacations. 
In those pre-normal-school days, it is significant 
that there was in the school a class of young ladies 
preparing to teach, and that these young ladies 
were given practice in teaching in the school itself. 
As this was at about the time when the monitorial 
system of teaching was greatly in favor in this 
country, it would seem that the Lancasterian plan 
was in some measure adopted by the school. 

That Eliza Chapin's course at this school had a 
strong influence in moulding the course later 
adopted at Wheaton Seminary there can be little 

On coming to Norton, she was received into a 
family of wealth and culture. Judge Wheaton, her 
husband's father, was a man of national reputa- 
tion. Graduating from Harvard College, he had 
studied for the ministry; but this profession prov- 
ing injurious to his health, he afterwards be- 
came a lawyer, and as such gained both fame and 
wealth, for he had "with intellectual strength of a 
very high order, acute legal knowledge and untiring 
application to his professional duties." He sat for 


seven years in the Massachusetts Legislature, and 
represented his district in Congress for eight years. 
In 1810, under Governor Gore, he was appointed 
Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas; and 
in 1819, under Governor Brooks, Chief Justice of 
the Court of Sessions. He was an upright, bene- 
volent man, but that he was undemonstrative is 
shown by a remark of his I have heard my mother 
quote: "I may have taken my daughter in my 
arms when an infant, but my son never." The dog- 
gerel of an irreverent boy, referring to "Old Judge 
Wheaton's under jaw," gives us an even liveher 
sense of his inflexibility than his fine, strong portrait 
at the Seminary; yet, inflexible as he must have 
been, no one can read the series of his brief letters, 
now to become the property of the Seminary, relat- 
ing his experience for years in caring for the insane 
son of a friend living in England, without reahzing 
the tenderness and self-sacrifice that accompanied 
his conscientious devotion to duty. 

"In 1794, at the age of forty, he was married to 
his cousin. Miss Fanny Morey, daughter of Samuel 
Morey, Esq.," of Norton, with whom he lived for 
fifty-two years. Mrs. Wheaton outlived her hus- 
band but two or three years. We know less of her 
than of Judge Wheaton, but she must have been 
a woman who sympathized with him in his bene- 
volent undertakings, for when the Seminary was 


opened, she temporarily gave up her comfortable 
home — "now the Mansion House — the large 
rooms being divided into two by partitions, for the 
use of boarders," and when the little church was 
built, she contributed to it from her private purse. 
In our own Mrs. Wheaton's early letters, the affec- 
tionate messages to "Mother Wheaton" show the 
same regard and respect for her that were evinced 
late in life whenever she referred to either " Father" 
or "Mother" Wheaton. 

Of the four children of the elder Wheatons two 
died early, and at the time of Eliza Chapin's mar- 
riage only Laban Morey and his sister Eliza F. 
were Hving, the sister having married, in 1826, 
Woodbridge Strong, M. D., of Boston. 

This was the family into which the slender young 
girl was now welcomed. Young and quiet as she 
was, she had such integrity of character and such 
dignity of bearing that it is clear she fully met the 
somewhat exacting standards maintained in it. 
There was no question that the family dignity 
would be safe in her hands. Indeed, when one of 
the townspeople, coming to her door, inquired 
familiarly for "Laban," — naturally enough, since 
he had been brought up side by side with him, — 
her dismay was so great that it was remembered 
for three quarters of a century. Her influence over 
her husband was felt by all his friends to be enno- 


bling, and one, writing to her after Mr. Wheaton's 
death in 1865, says, " You have a husband in heaven 
who might never have reached its pearly gates but 
for you." 

The few old people now living who remember 
Mrs. Wheaton as a bride of twenty, all speak of her 
as beautiful, and those of the next generation who 
remember the traditions of their parents tell the 
same story. Miss Mary E. Blair, one of Wheaton 
Seminary's greatest teachers, in a paper written for 
the meeting of the New England Wheaton Club in 
1906, in memory of Mrs. Wheaton, pictures her 
thus even thirty years later, "When I saw Mrs. 
Wheaton for the first time in 1856, she was still in 
the glory of womanhood, a beautiful woman, tall, 
erect, and stately, with regular features, fair com- 
plexion, and dark brown hair. She had great dig- 
nity of manner, not inviting to familiarity." 

She seems to have been a radiant, vigorous 
young woman. In the circle that gathered in the 
desolated mansion after her funeral was an old 
gentleman who gave a characteristic word of hers. 
It seems he had once tripped over some obstruction 
on entering a room, and Mrs. Wheaton had said 
quickly, "You should step high; I am a high- 
stepper.''^ Hers was no shuffling gait. Even when 
she was an elderly woman, many will remember 
that she retained her strong, secure step. She was 


high-spirited, — though not in the sense of taking 
offence easily, for she was humble and reverent. 

This young woman, looking eagerly out on the 
world, ready to do all good things that her hands 
found to do, had a warm and tender heart, and she 
had not been long in the village before she began to 
help in every way. 

It was in 1832 that the Trinitarian Congrega- 
tional Church was organized. Mrs. Wheaton was 
not only one of its charter members, but took an 
active interest in it from the beginning, which was 
in keeping with the Chapin character — witness, 
that of the forty-three members of the church organ- 
ized in Chicopee in 1752, thirty-two were Chapins 
of the same stock as Mrs. Wheaton. 

She at once became a teacher in the new Sun- 
day-school. An octogenarian, who was then a little 
girl, writes that Mrs. Wheaton continued to be a 
Sunday-school teacher till she was eighty years 

"At first," she says, "she had a class of young 
boys, then of young ladies, then of older ones. . . . 
I have received a letter from one of her Sabbath- 
school boys — an old man now. He said that she 
was a beautiful young lady at that time, he should 
never forget her talks and her prayers for her 

She seems to have been especially drawn to help 


the children of the village in all things. The same 
letter speaks of her early temperance work. "She 
was interested in one of the greatest temperance 
meetings that I ever knew in Norton. Each scholar 
in the Sabbath-school was provided with a temper- 
ance badge to wear on the shoulder, and [there was] 
a flag at the head of every class. We marched to the 
grove, where the tables were set with plenty of food 
and beautifully decorated with flowers. John B. 
Gough and other speakers from out of town were 
present. Mrs. Wheaton was at the head of all this 
great and good work. I was one of her scholars at 
the time." 

This temperance celebration, so vividly remem- 
bered for seventy years or more, was not the only 
part of Mrs. Wheaton's temperance work that 
made an impression on the children. An old gen- 
tleman writes, "When I was quite young I was in 
what was called the 'Coldwater Army,' and it used 
to meet in the church vestry. Very often we would 
march, and go to Mrs. Wheaton's — go into her 
dooryard. At such times she would come out and 
talk to us in her kindly manner, trying to make 
us live temperate Hves." This old gentleman adds: 
"She always liked to look after the young people 
and encourage them in doing right. I remember 
once when there was some kind of entertainment at 
the church vestry, some of the people talked of 


having grab-boxes or something similar, and Mrs. 
Wheaton objected, saying that she did not want 
anything to 'smite the young people's conscience.'" 
Of the spirit in which she worked, the same writer 
says: "She was a person who did not care to joke 
herself, but she enjoyed seeing other people have 
a good time. She never seemed to want to push 
herself ahead if it was going to interfere with the 
plans of others, but would make suggestions, hop- 
ing that they would think them over, at least." 

Rigorous as Mrs. Wheaton's conscience was, she 
seems generally to have preferred the wise way of 
suggesting the good rather than of condemning the 
bad. At a much later date, a lady remembers Mrs. 
Wheaton's coming to visit her mother when she her- 
self was a tiny child, and that Mrs. Wheaton ad- 
dressed her, smiling benignantly, with the words, 
"Ah, here is the little lady! " The "little lady" was 
so proud of the title that she never forgot it, and 
possibly it may have had something to do in form- 
ing the charming manners that now distinguish her. 
One lady, however, reports a mild reproof admin- 
istered to her in her childhood by Mrs. Wheaton, 
because she had said that the weather was "too 
bad," "evidently thinking," the lady adds, "I was 
finding fault with God's way of working. I remem- 
ber it was said that when she planned to go away 
from home the weather made no difference with 


her. She did not plan that, but she was going to 
follow her plans." 

It will be seen that the early years of her mar- 
ried Hfe were filled to the brim, not only with her 
household duties, which were always perfectly 
discharged, but with work for the church and for 
the children of the town. The kind of devotion 
she showed is illustrated by an entry in her journal 
somewhat later in Hfe, when she made with her 
own hands "Seven pans of Park St. cake for 
children's pic-nic. Went to pic-nic, but staid but 
little while my bones ached so." 

Everyone remembers her, too, as being active in 
the social Hfe of the village, and her notes referring 
to the "Harmony Circle" show that she received 
as well as gave pleasure by her interest in the 
simple society of the place. 

No life can be dull, though it may be painful, 
to one who accepts all its responsibilities. And 
that Mrs. Wheaton did from the first. 

It must not be supposed, however, that the vari- 
ety of her life consisted only in a variety of duties, 
and that she had no more exhilarating pleasures 
than a May-Day Festival or a panorama of Dr. 
Kane's Arctic Expedition, though it is evident from 
her notes that to her unspoiled mind even these 
simple entertainments brought genuine enjoy- 


All through their married life, Mr. and Mrs. 
Wheaton were constant travellers. Their journeys 
were not always long ones, but the number of 
them was very large. They took delight in driving 
all over the country with their own superb horses 
— usually, in the early days at least, of the Black 
Hawk strain. To drive to Boston, or Providence, 
or Uxbridge, and spend a few charming days with 
their numerous friends and relatives was their 
habit whenever they had a little leisure, a|id these 
friends and relatives were as frequently welcomed 
in their own hospitable home. 

At various times during every year, but especially 
in the fine autumn weather, it was their custom to 
take longer drives — to the Berkshire hills, to the 
White Mountains, to Vermont, etc., etc. On these 
tours they were usually accompanied by Mr. and 
Mrs. Willard Judson, who seem to have had sim- 
ilar tastes. Mrs. Judson was Mrs. Wheaton's 
beloved and beautiful sister Mary. 

As the railways were opened in different parts 
of the country, these four people took advantage 
of them to make longer journeys — especially to 
Canada, to Saratoga, and various parts of the 
West. Sometimes they started on their trips with 
their own horses, leaving them at some convenient 
point until their return. 

The Wheatons were almost as often in New 


York as in Boston. They had many friends there, 
and they also made a point of seeing all the inter- 
esting sights that are to be found in a great city. It 
is noticeable in Mrs. Wheaton's journals that when 
she visits any city, New York, Philadelphia, Wash- 
ington, Cincinnati, or wherever it may be, she 
always seems to have been first attracted by the 
picture galleries. There could not have been much 
worth seeing in them in those early days, but she 
evidently longed to see all she could. The Euro- 
pean galleries were to come later. 

Another point of interest to her everywhere 
was the flowers. Her diaries mention several 
trips to Boston and Salem expressly to see the 
Victoria Regia. She takes pains to fill a travelling- 
bag with flowers from her own beautiful garden, 
when sending it to her friends in New York, who 
have no gardens, — not once, but often. Her love 
of natural beauty was always an enthusiasm. In 
her diaries, she notes not only the weather, but the 
special beauty brought out by the weather. A beau- 
tiful rainbow always seems to her worth mention- 
ing. Of the famous ice storm of December, 1855, 
she writes: "Every spire of grass and shrub and 
tree, covered with ice, formed from the drizzly rain 
of yesterday, which presented the most magnificent 
display of crystals I ever looked upon — all glit- 
tered with jewels of dazzling brilliance when the 


sun shone. It continued perfect for 4 or 5 days." ^ 
The Wheatons kept up their custom of traveUing 
as long as Mr. Wheaton Hved. They were often 
accompanied by a party of friends, and one can 
hardly doubt that in many cases their companions 
were their guests. In 1854, one party of eleven, 
including several Seminary teachers, visited the 
White Mountains, whose scenery always roused 
enthusiasm in Mrs. Wheaton. The crowning 
achievement of this journey was the marriage, at 
Crystal Falls, of the Rev. Mr. Lothrop to Miss 
Gilman, the ceremony being performed by the 
Rev. Franklin Holmes, the young pastor of the 
Norton church, who the next year married Miss 
Martha Sawyer, — at that time a member of the 
Wheaton family, — who, with her sister Charlotte, 
formed a part of the happy company. 

The longest trip in the United States of which 
we have any record was taken by the Wheatons, 
with Miss Sav^er, in 1850. They visited New 
York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Har- 
per's Ferry, Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Louisville, the 
Mammoth Cave, Bowling Green, Nashville (where 

^ It has been thought best not to "edit" the letters and 
diaries of Mrs. Wheaton. If, in her hasty notes and enthusi- 
astic descriptions, she occasionally forgets to construct her 
sentences according to the rules of Lindley Murray, still, any 
attempt on the part of another to correct her little lapses would 
be sure to take something from the vividness of her v?ords. 


a call was made on Mrs. Polk, widow of President 
Polk), St. Louis, Jacksonville, Springfield, Chicago, 
White Pigeon (to see the "precious brother Adol- 
phus"), Kalamazoo, Detroit, Buffalo, Niagara 
Falls (Table Rock fell within a few hours of their 
standing upon it), Utica, Trenton Falls, Schenec- 
tady, and Albany, whence they proceeded down 
the Hudson to New York and thence home, 
having been absent from April 30 to July 10. 

As all the places visited are familiar to us now, 
it would be, perhaps, out of place to quote largely 
from Mrs. Wheaton's full journals and letters 
describing this trip, though she writes with vivacity 
of the beautiful scenes she visits. She must have 
been a good traveller, or she could hardly have 
endured the stage drive over the Alleghany Moun- 
tains, which she thus describes in a letter to her 
"very precious sister" Mary: "After the prelimi- 
naries, we took our seats with the kindest feeling 
we could summon on so suddenly being put on the 
social system of packing 9 persons into the space 
of a few feet, with certainty of passing the night 
in the same dilemma, knowing that the next morn- 
ing your feet might be claimed as somebody's 
else, and somebody's else passed off for yours. 
After being packed so we should not shake much 
singly, the driver mounted and slowly measured 
off his 10 miles, then fresh horses and driver and 


another lO miles when we alighted for supper, — 
and we were the largest company of stage pas- 
sengers I've seen for 20 yrs., numbering about 70, 
— there were 6 stages, and every 10 miles we 
changed horses and drivers, which added much to 
our comfort and safety by not having sleepy and 
drunken drivers. The moon shone bright, and I 
did a great deal of nodding, so that for two days 
after hardly to be able to turn my head." On the 
Monongahela they took a steamer for Pittsburg 
(which she compares to a "blacksmith's shop"). 
On arriving at Pittsburg, she and "Matty" hast- 
ened at once to the post-office, where "to my great 
JOY," she says, " found two letters, one from you 
and one from Maria" (Mrs. S. A. Chapin). In 
Cincinnati, nothing interested her so much as Pow- 
ers's Greek Slave, of which she had previously 
"seen many copies in plaster and daugeritype (I 
know I don't spell that ugly word right)." This 
suggests the very recent introduction of the now 
obsolete daguerreotype. 

Of all the interesting places she visited on this 
journey, none called forth such enthusiasm as 
Mammoth Cave. She writes page after page of 
foolscap in describing its marvellous sights. In her 
pocket diary, she notes of her first day in the Cave: 
"Walked 18 miles and saw things unutterable, 
grand and wonderful!! Deep pits, awful chasms, 


hollows, hills, domes, rivers, etc., are to be seen, 
with stalactite and other remarkable formations." 
In her letter to her sister, she thus describes the 
river Lethe: "A River in a Cave!! The blackness 
of darkness surrounds you. An arch high and 
spanning some fifty feet all of stone, and a River 
perhaps 25 or 30 ft. deep!! Stephen (the black 
guide) steps into the boat and scoops out the 
water. Then Matty and I step in and take our 
seats. Mr. W. and a Mr. A. stand, while Stephen 
sculls it along, all the while singing sweetly, which 
breaks the unearthly stillness." 

On the Echo River, the high arch becomes so 
low that they cry out, " ' Oh, guide, we can't go 
under!' 'Oh, I reckon we can,' he coolly re- 
plies, and says, 'Bow your heads — bend over.' 
We do so, almost lying down. An awful dilemma!! 
Darkness behind — darkness before us. An arch 
of solid rock over us, and a river 20 or 30 ft. deep 
ready to swallow us up!!" The echo she thought 
"very beautiful, surpassing the White Mt. Echo." 

After a four-mile walk, they stop for refreshment: 
"A napkin is spread on a rock — our lamps are 
placed around it to give light, for altho' at noon- 
day, not one ray of Hght for many miles can ap- 
proach us. The bread, the pie, cookies, meat, etc. 
are laid down and the pint flask of 'nice French 
Brandy' is taken out, from which our new made 


acquaintance, Mr. A., urges us to drink, but I 
decline on the ground that I do not need it, that I 
am a teetotaller, and that when I needed a very 
steady head, it would be hazardous to take what 
might make me giddy. He invites Stephen to 
drink. I look anxiously, for on him our hopes de- 
pend, with the blessing of God, for a safe return to 
the world." The beauty of the stalactites and sta- 
lagmites, the crystals and the columns, she feels 
to be beyond description, but speaks of her "won- 
der and delight" at what she saw. 

She describes the dress of herself and "Matty" 
on this occasion: "Turkish frocks and trousers, 
our heads bound in silk handkerchiefs, leather 
shoes on our feet, and old gloves on our hands." 
Truly, the Mrs. Wheaton of that journey was a 
younger woman than most of us have known! 

Mr. Wheaton, who had been graduated from 
Brown University in 1817, had afterwards studied 
law with his father. He gave his time, however, 
more to business than to the practice of law, having 
an interest in several factories in Norton. He gave 
a good deal of time to the public service, "was 
elected three times to the State legislature, twice 
represented his district in the Governor's Council, 
and was a trustee of the State Industrial School for 
Girls at Lancaster." These various offices required 


him to be much away from home, but usually Mrs. 
Wheaton was the companion of his trips. The 
Wheatons passed much time in Boston, sometimes 
spending the winter in some hotel there. 

It will be seen that Mrs. Wheaton's life was by no 
means an empty one even in her early Norton days. 
But in 1834 Mrs. Strong died in Boston, leaving no 
children, and that was a turning-point in the life 
of the Wheaton family. 


We know little of Mrs. Strong, but the winning 
portrait of her that used to hang in the Wheaton 
mansion helps us to understand the overwhelming 
grief of her father, then eighty years old, at her loss. 
Judge Wheaton's first thought was to raise a costly 
monument to her memory. It was then that his 
son's young wife gently turned his thoughts to a 
nobler memorial — the founding of a high-class 
school for girls. 

Seventy years later, Miss Clara M. Pike, a teacher 
in that Seminary, to whom Mrs. Wheaton was 
deeply attached, asked her if the thought of such a 
school was first suggested to her by Mrs. Strong's 
death. "Oh, no! no!" she said with emphasis, and 
added that even before her marriage she had felt 
the need of better education for girls. It was, there- 
fore, her earnest outlook on life, even in girlhood, her 
sincere desire to realize her high ideals, both for her- 
self and for other girls, that made her ready for the 
opportunity when it came; and, when it came, there 
was no flinching from it, though we may doubt if it 
was altogether easy for her to make that suggestion 


to the dignified and grief-stricken old man. That 
she could make it, and that it was acted upon, speaks 
eloquently for the place she had already won for 
herself in her husband's family. No doubt it was 
her unselfishness that made her plea effective, for in 
the end all the portion of Judge Wheaton's pro- 
perty that was to have been Mrs. Strong's was 
given to the Seminary, whereas, in the natural 
course of things, it would have come to Mrs. 
Wheaton's own husband, so that in a certain 
sense, the money itself may be said to have been the 
gift of Mrs. Wheaton. Both Judge Wheaton and 
his son yielded completely to her influence in this 
matter, and the Seminary became one of the chief 
interests in their lives. 

Mrs. Wheaton's suggestion was a much more 
significant one than it may seem now when large 
sums of money are constantly given for the educa- 
tion of women. We must not claim too much, but 
it is doubtful whether, at that time, there was any- 
where in the world a high-class school endowed 
expressly for girls, with the exceptions of Adams 
Academy in Londonderry, N. H., founded in 1823 
with an endowment of four thousand dollars, and 
the Abbot Academy at Andover, of which the origi- 
nal endowment in 1828 was only one thousand dol- 
lars for a building, though, at the death of Mrs. 
Sarah Abbot, who gave this money, it received more 


than ten thousand dollars additional. Both these 
endowments were much less than that of Judge 
Wheaton, for the Act of the Massachusetts Legis- 
lature for 1837, by which "Laban M. Wheaton, 
Cyrus W. Allen, and Lemuel Perry, their associ- 
ates and successors," were made a corporation of 
Proprietors of the Seminary, allows "said corpora- 
tion to hold real estate to the amount of ten thou- 
sand dollars, and personal estate to the amount 
of ten thousand dollars, to be devoted exclusively 
to purposes of education," and by another Act, 
passed in 1839, the corporation was empowered 
"to hold real estate to the amount of twenty thou- 
sand dollars, and personal estate to the amount of 
twenty thousand dollars in addition to the amount " 
previously authorized. Of course this does not 
prove that Judge Wheaton gave sixty thousand 
dollars to the Seminary, but among his papers 
still existing is a memorandum showing that he 
expected the income of his bequest to be about 
four thousand dollars. Two later acts, those of 
1890 and 1902, now enable the corporation to hold 
property to the value of more than a million dol- 
lars. In viewof this, the endowment of 1837 seems 
very small, yet in comparison with the funds at the 
disposal of other girls' schools of the time, it was 

Of the group of high-class boarding-schools in 


New England that did so much to metamorphose 
the education of women there, and sowed so much 
of the seed that afterwards bore fruit in women's 
colleges, several were in existence when, in 1834, 
Mrs. Wheaton made her now famous suggestion. 
Bradford Academy was a flourishing school, en- 
dowed in 1803, but until 1836 it was a school for 
both sexes. The Emma Willard School, nowof Troy, 
N. Y., was founded by Mrs. Willard in 18 14, in 
Middlebury, Vt., but that was never endowed, 
though in 18 19 a portion of the literature fund for 
girls' schools in New York was given to it, being 
the first known legislative appropriation of money 
for the education of girls. 

Probably the most influential school for girls 
in the country in 1834 was the Ipswich Seminary, 
at Ipswich, Mass., which, established for both 
sexes, had, in 1828, become a seminary for young 
ladies only, under the pioneers. Miss Grant (after- 
wards Mrs. Bannister) and Miss Lyon (the two 
teachers who had already made the Londonderry 
Academy famous). But Ipswich had no endow- 
ment; and it was this fact that led Miss Lyon to 
undertake the crusade that ended in the opening 
of Mt. Holyoke in 1837. It was during this cru- 
sade that Mrs. Strong died, and that Wheaton 
Seminary was opened in 1835, though not incor- 
porated till 1837. There can hardly have been 


any other well-endowed school for girls in the 
country at that time, for on February 4, 1832, Miss 
Lyon, writing to President Hitchcock of Amherst 
College, advocated a plan for a "permanent fe- 
male seminary," in these words: "What perma- 
nent female seminaries are now in existence ? 
What one in New England, of a high character, 
is necessarily, from its plan, destined to outlive 
its present teachers ?" 

Furthermore, in 1834, "there was not in any 
State of our Union a Normal School," — that at 
Lexington, Mass., afterwards removed to Framing- 
ham, was opened in 1839, — "or in any town or 
city a High School for the education of girls." 
The only opportunities girls then had for educa- 
tion were in the district schools, the academies, and 
a few admirable private schools. 

In view of these facts, Mrs. Wheaton's thought 
was certainly the thought of a pioneer. Now the 
great movement for the higher education of women 
everywhere, which is one of the most far-reaching 
in its effects of all the great movements of the nine- 
teenth century, began in the United States, and 
not only in the United States, but in New England. 
So that the modest young woman who suggested 
the endowment of Wheaton Seminary was, uncon- 
sciously to herself, giving efficient help in a cause 
that has raised the standard of life all over the world. 


But we know less than we should Hke to know 
about Mrs. Wheaton's part in founding the Sem- 
inary. When, in 1885, Miss Lucy Larcom wrote 
her beautiful semicentennial sketch of Wheaton 
Seminary, she wrote at Norton, under the eye of 
Mrs. Wheaton herself. The teachers of the time 
remember with some amusement how, again and 
again, Mrs. Wheaton returned the pages Miss 
Larcom submitted to her, with a line drawn 
through them wherever her own name was men- 
tioned. Even in speaking of her original suggestion, 
Miss Larcom was only allowed to say, "One who 
stood very near to him [Judge Wheaton] and 
shared his grief, said, 'Why not make it a living 
monument?'" From first to last, Mrs. Wheaton 
always shrunk from anything that could in any way 
detract from the honor due to " Father Wheaton." 

As soon as a seminary had been determined 
upon, Miss Lyon was invited to Norton for con- 
sultation as to its plans. She became deeply inter- 
ested in it, and spent much of the year 1835 at 
Norton, though, being pledged to the school soon 
to be opened at South Hadley, she could not take 
a permanent position at Wheaton. 

It may be asked why was not Judge Wheaton's 
gift made to Mt. Holyoke, then in sore need of an 
endowment ? It is true the schools at South Had- 
ley and Norton had in common the great aim of 


providing a broad and thorough Christian educa- 
tion for young women, yet their specific aims were 
a Httle different. Miss Lyon was greatly impressed 
with the need of training teachers, there being at 
that time so few women competent to teach that 
the demand for the Ipswich graduates was far 
in excess of the supply. She believed, indeed, that 
the training that would make a good teacher 
would also be good training for a woman in any 
walk of life, but her chief interest was in teachers. 
To reduce the expense of the training to meet the 
needs of capable women with small means, she 
proposed that the pupils should do the housework 
of the institution, and in that way, she actually 
succeeded in bringing the cost for board and tui- 
tion down to sixty dollars a year! 

The Wheatons also believed in the thorough 
training that would fit women for teachers, and 
Wheaton Seminary has sent out a very large num- 
ber of high-class teachers, the accomplished lady 
who is now the President of the Seminary that has 
become Mt. Holyoke College being herself a 
Wheaton graduate. But the Wheatons were most 
interested in that large class of girls, much larger 
proportionally then than now, who would spend 
their lives chiefly in their own homes, and they 
greatly desired to make the school of value to the 
girls of their own town. 


As no scheme of domestic training was arranged 
at Norton, the expenses of the school were greater 
than at South Hadley, but they were within the 
reach of the daughters of professional men in the 
country towns — ministers, doctors, lawyers, and 
schoolmasters, and large numbers of such girls 
availed themselves of this opportunity for educa- 
tion, giving a high moral and intellectual tone to 
the school. There were so many good private 
schools in the larger cities at this time, that the 
seminaries drew chiefly from the country; but at 
Norton there was always a contingent from Bos- 
ton, New York, and other large cities. These girls, 
together with the daughters of manufacturers and 
merchants all over the country, and, up to the Civil 
War, the daughters of rich Southerners, being 
accustomed to more luxury than the others, added 
certain graces and refinements to the boarding- 
school life that could not well be missed. The 
organization of the school was thoroughly demo- 
cratic, the rich and the poor meeting together in 
perfect equality, and a girl's standing depended 
solely on herself. 

It was the purpose of the school to mould all 
these heterogeneous materials into noble, refined, 
useful women. At a recent meeting of the Wheaton 
Club in Boston, an old lady was asked if she could 
give us any reminiscences of Mrs. Wheaton for 


this book. She replied, "Why, no. To tell the 
truth, I was a very naughty little girl, sent to 
Wheaton to keep me out of harm's way, and I 
did n't know Mrs. Wheaton very well, though I 
remember she was always kind to the girls and 
invited them to visit her, very often. But, you see, 
I was very naughty. I remember meeting Mr. 
Wheaton once on the sidewalk in front of the 
Seminary, and he said, *I hear you are a very 
naughty little girl. But cheer up! You'll do well 
by and by.' I am not very good now, but every- 
thing in me that is worth while I owe to Wheaton 
Seminary." This anecdote is not told as character- 
istic of Mr. Wheaton. He seldom spoke to any 
school-girl, and when he did speak, it was usually 
with ceremony and dignity. But it is character- 
istic of the spirit of the school. Sometimes there 
were naughty girls in the school — occasionally 
a very naughty girl. But it was always expected 
that she would be better. The teachers, and most 
of the girls, too, were always trying to help her to 
be better, and a very large number of the pupils 
grew to noble womanhood. 

A bundle of unpublished letters of Miss Lyon 
to the Wheatons, in reference to the founding of 
the school, has lately been given to the Seminary 
by Mrs. Mary Chapin Smith. From the first of 
these, dated Ipswich, July 3, 1834, we quote Miss 


Lyon's description of Miss Caldwell (afterwards 
Mrs. Cowles), the teacher whom, in response to 
Mr. Wheaton's request for advice, she was recom- 
mending for the new school: — 

" Miss Caldwell v/ishes to devote herself to the 
business of teaching, not to promote mainly her 
own interests and happiness, but to promote the 
present and future and eternal welfare of the rising 
generation. She does not wish to engage in any 
place without knowing so much of the situation 
as to know that it would be favorable for the pro- 
motion of these objects. If she should, after further 
consideration, think favorably of the plan of labor- 
ing in your place, before any decision is formed, I 
think it advisable that she should visit your place 
and learn what she can on the spot, which she 
could not learn in any other way. 

"I rejoice that your father has decided to go for- 
ward in this benevolent undertaking. May he live 
to see great and good results, and have abundant 
cause to thank God that this was put into his 
heart. And may you, sir, live to see greater things 
than his eyes shall behold, and may you ever bless 
our Heavenly Father, who has given to your dear 
and honored father a heart to care for those be- 
yond his own household. Such a spirit in a father 

[ n \ 

is a rich legacy to children, which cannot be esti- 
mated by riches and gold." 

Further correspondence proving favorable to 
the engagement of Miss Caldw^ell, Miss Lyon sub- 
mitted a plan for the school to the Trustees. It con- 
tains seven articles. No pupils under 14 w^ere to 
be admitted (the age w^as afterwards changed to 
13). Board w^as not to exceed that at Ipswich, 
which, including washing and lights (fuel extra), 
was 1^1.75 a week. (That the sum jfinally fixed 
upon was $i.6yy helps us to realize how very 
closely calculations were made in those days for 
the expenses of girls who were not in any sense 
charity scholars, but who belonged to families in 
fairly easy circumstances.) Only two pupils were 
to share a room. The length of terms, price of 
tuition, etc., were other points fixed. 

Miss Caldwell had already been four years a 
teacher at Ipswich, and one of the articles in Miss 
Lyon's paper reads: — 

"The school is to be conducted on the same 
general principles as Ipswich Female Seminary. 
This is in compliance with the request of Mr. 
Wheaton, and in accordance with the wishes of 
Miss Caldwell. As it could not be expected that 
the Board of Trustees should devote the time 
requisite to become acquainted with the plans of 
the Ipswich Female Seminary, it is proposed that 


under their general oversight, the responsibility 
of the course of instruction and mode of govern- 
ment, the formation and execution of the plans 
of the school, be committed directly to Miss Cald- 
well, till the system pursued shall be tested to 
the satisfaction of the Trustees." 

How much more important the welfare of the 
school seemed to ladies like Miss Lyon and Miss 
Caldwell than the rewards to be looked for by the 
teacher is revealed by the fact that Miss Caldwell's 
salary is the last point mentioned, and in these 
terms, it having been premised that no rent should 
be paid for the schoolhouse Judge Wheaton was 
now building: — 

" Miss Caldwell is to receive the tuition for com- 
pensation, and is to be responsible for all expenses 
connected with the school." The tuition had been 
placed at $5 for each of the four terms of eleven 
weeks each, and the number of scholars was an 
entirely unknown quantity, facts which empha- 
size the intrepidity of Miss Caldwell! 

December 23, Miss Lyon writes earnestly against 
a proposition to allow four pupils to occupy one 
room. She also speaks wisely of the great respon- 
sibilities of a teacher who boards in a family with 
her pupils, — for the first boarding-house belonging 
to the Seminary was not built till the second year 
of the school. 

[ 75 ] 

February 25, 1835, she writes again on this 
point, explaining Miss Caldwell's great reluctance 
to take the responsibility of boarding with the 
pupils, but saying also that as both Miss Grant 
and herself felt this to be important. Miss Cald- 
well would probably yield to their judgment. She 
continues : — 

"When a teacher boards with so many scholars, 
and takes so much responsibility, which all other 
families must take on themselves, and which really 
belongs to those who receive the boarders, it is 
common to grant some favor in return, and I think 
it would be just and suitable. Some families here 
would have been willing to give a teacher her 
board if they could have had the privilege of 
having one in the family. I do not know what 
Miss Caldwell will think about this, but I should 
propose only that they should always furnish Miss 
Caldwell a room alone^ and expect to do more 
errands for her than they would for the young ladies, 
and perhaps furnish a little more and better furniture 
for her than for the young ladies, and that her 
board should be the same price [as that] of the 
others. This would be reasonable, and no family 
who will look at it will complain. Miss Caldwell 
will be satisfied with whatever will be for the best 
good of the school, and what will be best for her 
successor. But it appears to me that any less 


favors granted in the boarding-house to the prin- 
cipal of the Seminary would operate against the 
reputation of the institution, and against obtaining 
an able teacher to be at the head of the institution. 

" I have read this to Miss Grant, and requested 
her opinion, and she says that these favors the 
teachers ought by all means to receive, and at 
least one more, which I forgot to mention — that 
the principal should at any time feel at liberty to 
receive a friend as a visitor several days, to occupy 
the chamber with herself without charge. ... At 
first Miss Grant queried whether it would not be 
more suitable that Miss Caldwell should receive 
some pecuniary compensation, besides the extra 
privileges which I have enumerated. But on the 
whole, we are agreed that we would request 
nothing but these favors, but that these would be 
justf as well as suitable." 

This catalogue of the perquisites a principal 
may justly expect may strike us as naive, but it 
shows us the stuff of which the founders of Wheaton 
Seminary were made. 

In March, Miss Lyon prepared the prospectus 
of the new school, to be inserted in the papers: — 


A school by this name will be opened this Spring 
in Norton. A commodious building has been 


erected by the liberality of the Hon. Laban 
Wheaton, and the following gentlemen have been 
appointed Trustees: Laban Wheaton of Nor- 
ton; Rev. Sylvester Holmes of Nev^ Bedford; Rev. 
Orin Fowler of Fall River; Rev. Erastus Maltby, 
and Dea. William Reed of Taunton; Mr. Jona- 
than Bliss of Attleboro; Lemuel Perry, Esq., and 
L. M. Wheaton, Esq., of Norton. 

It is designed that the general character of this 
School shall be similar to that of the Ipswich 
Female Seminary. It is well known that the Sem- 
inary at Ipswich is rendered much more pleasant 
and profitable to adult young ladies by the ex- 
clusion of younger misses. As schools adapted 
to the wants of little girls are so much more numer- 
ous than those designed particularly to benefit 
young ladies of mature age, it is believed that the 
rejection of younger scholars will render this new 
institution a greater blessing to the community, 
even though the number of pupils should in con- 
sequence be much smaller at first. None will 
therefore be received into the School under thir- 
teen years of age. Miss Eunice Caldwell, who 
has been a teacher several years in the Ipswich 
Female Seminary, will take charge of the School. 
Competent assistance will be furnished when 

The Summer Term will commence on Tuesday, 


April 22, and continue twenty-two weeks, with 
a recess of three days in the middle of the term. 
Pupils will be received at the commencement and 
at the middle of each term. 

Terms. — Board, including washing and lights, 
will generally be ^1.67 per week, and in no family 
will it exceed ^1.75, to be paid at the close of each 
half term. Tuition will be ^10 for a term of twenty- 
two weeks — ^5 of which is to be paid at the 
commencement of each half term. 

The Trustees will engage good boarding-places 
for all the applicants that make the request. Only 
two young ladies will occupy the same chamber. 
Applications for admission into the School, as well 
as for board, may be addressed to the Secretary 
of the Board of Trustees. Several young ladies 
can be received into the family in which the 
Teacher boards, and all the pupils will be under 
her care at their boarding-houses as well as in 
school. Applications for entrance should be made 
as early as possible, and they should be decisive, 
so that there may be no difficulty in retaining 
good boarding-places. 

The same books will generally be used in the 
School that are used in the Ipswich Female Semi- 
nary. The following is the list of books used in 
that institution: — 

The Bible; Worcester's Abridgment of Webster, 


or some other English Dictionary; the Eclectic 
Reader, by B. B. Edwards; Porter's Rhetorical 
Reader; Mrs. Phelps' Botany; Smellie's Philosophy 
of Natural History; Woodbridge's Larger Geo- 
graphy; Colburn's First Lessons; Adams' New 
Arithmetic; Simpson's or Playfair's Euclid; Good- 
rich's History of the United States, with Emerson's 
Questions ; Smith's and Murray's Grammar ; 
Watts on the Mind; Comstock's Natural Philo- 
sophy ; Sullivan's Political Class Book ; Worces- 
ter's Elements of History, with Goldsmith's 
Greece, Rome, and England; Goodrich's Eccle- 
siastical History; Abercrombie on the Intellectual 
Powers; Nannon's and Whateley's Rhetoric; Com- 
stock's Chemistry; Wilkins' Astronomy; Paley's 
Natural Theology; Butler's Analogy; Alexander's 
Evidences of Christianity, and the American An- 
nals of Education. 

Young ladies are requested to take with them 
any of the above list which they may own; but it 
is undesirable that they should purchase before 
entering the school. Every one should be sup- 
plied on entering the school with an English Dic- 
tionary and Modern Atlas. Books and Stationery 
can be procured near the Seminary on reasonable 

L. M. Wheaton, Secretary. 

Norton, March [15?], 1835. 


This is not a very ambitious program, perhaps, 
yet one adapted to teach students to think, espe- 
cially on moral questions. Its aim was to give a 
sound English education, and it was successful in 
its object, even though there was no formal teach- 
ing of English literature at that time, it being as- 
sumed — and not without warrant — that these 
thoughtful young women would read the best 
poetry and essays for their own satisfaction with- 
out being spurred to do so by a teacher. We know 
that caHsthenics were introduced before 1839, and 
some of the languages, the piano and vocal music 
before 1842. 

A draft for the act of incorporation of the Semi- 
nary is still in existence in Judge Wheaton's micro- 
scopic and almost illegible handwriting, though 
it appears never to have been used. It begins: 
"Whereas, the promotion of female education is 
now considered by the wise and good an object of 
high importance to the rising generation," thus 
striking clearly the keynote of the new institution. 
It makes plain the object of the school, — "the 
promotion of piety, religion, and morality, and the 
education of females in all branches of Science and 
Literature that are suitable and proper for them to 
attend to" The italics are our own. 

Judge Wheaton's draft emphasizes Miss Lar- 
com's statement in her Semicentennial Sketch 


that the movement in New England towards estab- 
Hshing better schools for women was noticeably a 
religious one. She points to Rev. Joseph Emerson ^ 
of Beverly as perhaps the most influential among 
the pioneers in the work. He established schools 
for women at Byfield and at Saugus, Mass., and 
at Wethersfield, Conn., and even prepared text- 
books for his pupils when needed. He was 
a broad-minded man in every way, who lectured 
in his own and neighboring parishes on English 
poetry, astronomy, etc., before the inauguration 
of the Lyceum, and who anticipated the manual 
training idea of to-day by sending his sons des- 
tined for the ministry to a printer, to learn type- 
setting, and to a carpenter, to learn the use of 

More than all, his personal influence inspired 
in his pupils an enthusiasm and self-denying effort 
that they carried with them through life. Miss 
Grant and Mary Lyon were among his pupils, 
and through them the seminaries at Derry, "at 
Ipswich, at Norton, and at South Hadley may 
be traced directly back to his influence, and many 
others which with them sprang up all over the 
land." Pupils at Ipswich long remembered how 

^ A descendant in double lines of the Rev. Joseph Emerson of 
Mendon, who died in Concord in 1680, and who was also the 
ancestor of Ralph Waldo Emerson. 


Miss Grant and Miss Lyon used to quote, "My 
beloved teacher now in heaven." Through the first 
three principals at Norton, Miss Caldwell, Miss 
Knight, and Miss Vose, — all Ipswich pupils, — 
his influence was continued at Norton, while, later, 
his son. Rev. Alfred Emerson, married Miss Vose, 
and was for many years a trustee of the Seminary. 
Their two daughters were both graduates of the 
school, and for years among its valued teachers. 
A letter from one of these daughters, Miss Frances 
Vose Emerson, then in Paris, read at the Wheaton 
Memorial Meeting in 1906, furnishes a picture of 
the opening of the Seminary, and though a part 
of it refers to a later period, it is given below almost 
in full. 

"It was in 1835, when the Seminary first opened, 
that my aunt, Catherine Vose, came to Norton, the 
first pupil on the ground. None of the present 
boarding-houses were then built, I believe, and the 
old Judge and Mrs. Wheaton had given up their 
own home, now the Mansion House, for the use of 
the girls. The then young Mr. and Mrs. Wheaton 
also opened their doors to the girls, and it was 
accordingly to Mrs. Wheaton's own house that my 
aunt was brought by her brother, and, with the 
abundant hospitality of those days, which would 
seem a little unusual in similar circumstances now, 
the brother was invited to spend the night at Mrs. 


Wheaton's. It was a pleasant home that Mrs. 
Wheaton made for those first girls, albeit with a 
little more formality than one would find now. 
Were they not the first girls, and were they not 
making the precedents for generations of girls to 
come ? 

"It was several years after this that my mother 
was at Norton as teacher and afterwards as prin- 
cipal. The Seminary was young then, it was living 
through the first stages of childhood, and it was 
with much solicitude that Mrs. Wheaton watched 
over those critical years. Certainly I judge that 
she knew more of the details of everyday life than 
afterward. In a slight fire that broke out, Mrs. 
Wheaton herself rushed over, — if you can imagine 
Mrs. Wheaton rushing, — and, going from room to 
room, saw that the girls put down their open win- 
dows. It was in those early days of the Seminary 
that Mrs. Wheaton, then a young woman, formed 
those friendships with the young women who were 
the early principals and teachers which proved 
lifelong. Together they planned and prayed for the 
young school. Nor was their life so wholly serious 
that they had no time for a little fun, and many a 
quiet little joke they enjoyed together. Indeed, I 
think few realized how keen was Mrs. Wheaton's 
sense of the ludicrous. 

" Mrs. Wheaton had the calm, undemonstrative 


nature of the typical New England woman, but 
the durability of those friendships, which lasted 
for sixty years and over, proved the strength and 
depth of her affection. With none of those early 
friends, perhaps, did the friendship continue so 
tender and intimate as with Mrs. Beane (Miss 
Knight), 'Lady Beane,' as Mrs. Wheaton used 
playfully and lovingly to call her. 

" After my mother left Norton, family cares in a 
measure separated her from Mrs. Wheaton, but 
when, after more than twenty years, my mother 
brought my sister to school, the two friends met as 
if they had been apart only a day, and from that 
time a confidential, almost sisterly intimacy existed 
between them. 

" One of my own pleasantest memories is of a 
week I spent with Mrs. Wheaton during my school 
days. I had not been well, and she watched over 
me with motherly care. I used to find a bunch of 
delicious Hamburg grapes — were there ever such 
delicious Hamburgs as grew in her grapery ? — 
in my room every day. 

" How wide was Mrs. Wheaton's anniversary 
hospitality in my school days, when all our family 
and our friends as well were welcomed! Will any 
one who knew Mrs. Wheaton in the sixties and 
seventies forget those June days when one walked 
up the broad flagstones between the rows of box 


to find Mrs. Wheaton at the door, still alert and 
vigorous, with radiant smile of welcome that fairly- 
transformed her face ? How delightful the cool, 
spacious hall, the shaded parlors, the dining-table, 
with its delicious strawberries and shining silver, 
where Mrs. Wheaton presided and Mrs. Beane 
sat opposite to serve! How Mrs. Beane used to 
enjoy her quiet fun at Mrs. Wheaton's caution, 
because she wished to start for the railroad station 
in time to go back for another carriage if there was 
a breakdown, and because she cleared a place in 
the cellar to be prepared for another tornado! ^ 

"Another side of Mrs. Wheaton's character came 
out through my father's connection with the Semi- 
nary as Trustee and Treasurer. Her well-ordered 
accounts and systematic bookkeeping surprised 
even his methodical and mathematical mind. Her 
well-balanced judgment, that looked at all sides 
before deciding ; that generosity and modesty that 
never let the right know what the left hand did ; 
and rarest of all qualities, perhaps, in a character 

^ In this connection may be mentioned the remark of a lady 
who, as a child fifty years ago, was a near neighbor of Mrs. 
Wheaton: "A. and I recall her habit of saying that she had 
spent some of the happiest hours of her life waiting in railroad 
stations." Probably her enjoyment came from her interest in 
people, for she was a close observer, though the certainty of 
not missing her train was undoubtedly a satisfaction to one 
so cautious that, as a niece writes, "in going to drive, a rope 
and tools, in case of accident, were always in the carriage." 


so forceful as Mrs. Wheaton's, that withholding 
of herself which suggested but did not dictate; 
these were some of the qualities which were evident 
to the trustees. 

" But that which was the keynote of Mrs. Whea- 
ton's character was her loyalty to her Master. The 
family prayers, the feeling of being only the stew- 
ard of her wealth, the constant question, 'What 
would Christ have me to do .'" revealed the secret 
of her life. The more closely one knew her, the 
more clearly one saw the reality and beauty of her 

The leading facts connected w^th the early de- 
velopment of the school are beautifully told in 
Miss Larcom's Semicentennial Sketch, especially 
the part taken in it by the venerable Judge Whea- 
ton, who lived to be 92 years old, and who gave 
the diplomas to the graduates "with his own 
trembling hands" in his 92d year, in 1845, ten 
years after the school was founded. Miss Larcom 
was somewhat hampered in writing, however, as 
all the ten ladies who had then held the position 
of Principal as Wheaton Seminary were living at 
the time she wrote, and, in her own words, it would 
not have been "in good taste to pass their merits 
in review before their own eyes." Nevertheless, 
she has left us an inspiring picture of the life of 
the school in those days. Most of these women 


have now passed on, but no one is left who can tell 
their story from personal knowledge. 

However, among Mrs. Wheaton's papers were 
several sketches evidently written for the 25th and 
50th anniversaries of the Seminary, and one of 
these, unsigned, was written by one of the first 
pupils. She says: — 

"I remember well on a dull Monday morning 
of April, 1835, the gathering, for the first time, of 
the pupils in Wheaton Seminary. The bell called 
us. We were met at the Seminary door by Miss 
Smith, one of the teachers, and shown where to 
put our bonnets, and directed to take our seats in 
the schoolroom. The desks — those of the teachers 
as well as the others — were straight up and down 
boards. Two settees were on the platform for trus- 
tees. Two or three blackboards formed the back- 
ground, with not a chalk mark to mar the blackness. 
[Another sketch says only two pieces of chalk had 
been provided.] Our faces — perhaps they were 
young and bright — were certainly leaden in aspect. 
" As the bell ceased ringing, Miss Caldwell and 
the other teachers. Miss Smith and Miss Chicker- 
ing, came in. Miss Caldwell's cheery ' Good morn- 
ing, young ladies,' gave us some courage as we 
began to look about at her and at each other. Miss 
C. read from God's word and asked his blessing, 
present and future, for the school. 

[ 88 ] 

" One by one we were called to the desk, where 
we gave our names and ages, the name of each 
being given in turn to the school. Then came a 
recess of ten minutes, and our acquaintance and 
friendships began. Think of those girls [one sketch 
says there were 39 of them], all strangers to each 
other, except in a few instances, going out into that 
sandy yard where grew no shrub, nor flower, nor 
even a blade of grass! . . . There was no ap- 
paratus and no library [another sketch says that 
the townspeople contributed some philosophical 
apparatus soon after, and that the Ipswich girls 
gave ;^50 for the same purpose; while the first 
books towards the formation of a library were 
given by the elder Mrs. Wheaton, and the first 
piano by our own Mrs. Wheaton, and the younger 
Mr. Wheaton soon provided excellent desks and 
chairs]; but we were patiently and thoroughly 
taught. Miss Caldwell had a class in grammar, — 
a stupid one, too, when she took it, — but we 
mastered [our lessons]. Perhaps one of the girls 
expressed the reason of our success when she said: 
*I do believe I shall learn to like even grammar, 
if I recite to Miss Caldwell.' . . . None of us 
who boarded at Mrs. Wheaton's can forget her 
warm interest and generous hospitality; she, as 
well as Miss Caldwell, used frequently to remind 
us that the future character of the school would 


very much depend on what our conduct in school, 
in the boarding-house, in church, and in the street 
should be during that first summer, and to expect 
us to do our best at all times, and so give a name 
to the school we should be willing to own. . . . 

" The pupils felt that Miss Caldwell was gov- 
erned in her life, acts, and requirements by the 
purest and highest motives, which, joined with her 
kindness, firmness, and consistency in the con- 
duct of affairs, won for her admiring respect and 
enthusiastic regard. She was the friend of her 
pupils. She helped them in their difficulties, coun- 
selled them in their perplexities, and homesick 
little girls felt the healing balm of her sympathy. 
All knew that the spiritual welfare of her pupils 
was her deepest concern." 

One of Mrs. Cowles's (Miss Caldwell's) own 
letters to Mrs. Wheaton, dated i860, gives us a 
picture of Mrs. Wheaton herself in the early days 
of the school. 

*' Ah, I have seen you, dear Mrs. Wheaton, in the 
most pinching weather, leave that sweet parlor that 
never knows a winter, and, wrapped in garments 
suited to the sleet and the storm, cross over to the 
boarding-house, to see and know whether all proper 
arrangements were made for the comfort of the 
inmates. Have I not seen you once, twice, and 
thrice, take to your own charming home, even to 


the house Beautiful, the weary and dispirited 
Principal, lodge her in that chamber whose window 
looks toward the sun-rising, and that may be fitly 
named Peace, and there watch and tend her with 
all a sister's love ? You may have forgotten all 
this; I have not." 

Miss Caldwell, having been previously pledged 
to help Miss Lyon at Mt. Holyoke, left Norton 
when the new Seminary was opened in 1837. That 
she took with her the love and sympathy of the 
Norton girls is seen by the following entries found 
in an account book in Miss Lyon's handwriting 
at Mt. Holyoke : — 

"October, 1837. Cash from teachers and pupils 
in the Wheaton Female Seminary, towards fur- 
nishing parlor, ^100.00." 

"November. Cash from teachers and pupils of 
Wheaton Female Seminary, to complete the fur- 
nishing of parlor, ;^i35.oo." Miss Larcom adds, in 
connection with this entry, "The amount collected 
was certainly a large one for that time, and for a 
Seminary just beginning its own life; and the 
record is especially interesting as showing the 
sympathy of the two schools in their common 
work." Miss Eliza R. Knight, another Ipswich 
graduate, followed Miss Caldwell in 1838, and 
under her, in 1839, the first senior class was grad- 
uated. In 1840, Miss Knight resigned to become 


the wife of the Rev. Samuel Beane. She was suc- 
ceeded by her friend, already a teacher in the 
school, Miss Martha E. W. Vose, another of the 
famous Ipswich group. She, too, resigned after two 
years, becoming the wife of the Rev. Alfred Emer- 
son. Miss Martha C. Sawyer held the position of 
Principal from 1842 to 1846. She is still living (Feb- 
ruary, 1907), and it was hoped she would be able 
to contribute some reminiscences to this volume; 
but her age and infirmities prevent. This is par- 
ticularly to be regretted, for Miss Sawyer was one 
of the earliest graduates of Wheaton Seminary, 
and as a girl she was almost like a daughter to 
Mrs. Wheaton. The close friendship between 
the two was maintained to the very end of Mrs. 
Wheaton's life. Miss Sawyer married the Rev. 
Franklin Holmes, who was for some years settled 
in Norton, and she was long a near neighbor of 
the Wheatons, her home being in what is known 
as Holmes Cottage, now a part of the Seminary 

Miss Sawyer was followed by Miss Elizabeth A. 
Gate (Mrs. William Barrows) from 1847 to 1849. 
We are so fortunate as to have in her handwriting 
a short paper, written for the Wheaton Memorial 
Meeting in 1906, she being then in her 83d year. 
It is a significant fact that Mrs. Wheaton and each 
of the first five principals of the school all lived to 


a great age, and all were active and useful mem- 
bers of society till long past 80, a fact that speaks 
volumes for their vitality and strength of character. 
Mrs. Barrows's paper is called, — 


It was in the February of 1847 that I first met 
Mrs. Wheaton. Previously I had heard much of 
her through Miss Martha Vose, whom I knew inti- 
mately at Bradford Academy, and who was once 
a beloved and honored principal of Wheaton 
Seminary. ... I had not been particularly im- 
pressed by what I had heard of Mrs. Wheaton; 
up to this time she had been to me only a name, 
but, at once, I knew her for a remarkable woman. 
A short time before this interview, I had been 
invited by the Trustees of Wheaton Seminary to 
take the position of Principal, and had declined. 
I supposed that the question was definitely and 
finally settled; but I had reckoned without — Mrs. 

She was not in strong health, yet she had come 
to Boston on this inclement winter's day to try 
and induce me to reverse my decision. She made 
no labored appeal, but gave a plain statement of 
facty and need, and opportunity. She did not dis- 
guise any feature of the situation, acknowledging 


frankly its difficulties, but drew a glowing picture 
of what might be accomplished if the right course 
were taken. 

I forget the arguments used, tho' I suppose they 
had their effect; but I remember well the persua- 
sive and earnest tones of her voice, the sweet dignity 
and graciousness of her manner, and the indomi- 
table spirit that shone through all. In the glamour 
of her presence and personality all obstacles seemed 
to disappear. In her vocabulary there was no such 
word as '*fail," and of course I yielded. What 
could I do but lower my colors to a superior force ? 

I began my labors in April, 1847. The school 
was not in a prosperous condition, its numbers 
had decreased, its prestige was declining from un- 
known causes. For a while it was uphill work for 
new teachers, and might have been disheartening 
but for Mrs. Wheaton's zeal and courage. She 
was always ready with words of cheer and of wise 
counsel, as well as with material help. I can see 
her alert figure coming across from her home to 
inquire if we "needed anything;" every want was 
foreseen and provided for, nothing escaped her 
vigilance, and though not very strong, her abound- 
ing vitality seemed equal to all demands. . . . 
You of to-day, basking in the sunshine of pros- 
perity which has beamed on you for so many years, 
can scarcely realize the conditions of those far-off 


days. But the ship did not founder — for Mrs. 
Wheaton was on the quarter-deck. Under her 
fostering care success was bound to come. The 
waning enterprise revived and grew apace. In 
1849 a new building was erected on the old site, 
which gave an added impetus [to the school]. . . . 

Yes, Mrs. Wheaton was a rare woman. Seldom 
have been found so many fine qualities united in 
one individual. Practical and sensible, yet with 
lofty ideals and aspirations and enthusiasms; with 
deep and fervent piety, a kind and generous heart; 
unity of purpose, and devotion to the interests of 
others, she was always beloved and honored. 

The school, the beloved institution, was her life^ 
and in the years to come, her name and memory 
will be an inspiration to all the [daughters] of 

This letter shows how active Mrs. Wheaton's 
influence was in shaping the school even in the 
days when Judge Wheaton and his son were still 
living. Miss Cate married Rev. William Barrows, 
who was settled in Norton. She was succeeded by 
Miss Margaret Mann, who remained only one 
year, later becoming Mrs. Thomas Rice. 



For many years Mrs. Wheaton kept a diary. The 
diaries from 1850 to her death in 1905 were in- 
cluded among the private papers she left to her 
niece, Mrs. Smith, by will, and some of them have 
been available for this book. This minute record 
of her life for so many years, with scarcely a blank 
day, is in itself a monument to her careful, method- 
ical character. Every page is crowded with entries, 
laconically expressed. While few of the entries 
are of much interest taken alone, all together give 
the reader a vivid picture of Mrs. Wheaton's life 
that could hardly have been painted in any other 
way. As it would be impossible, within the limits 
of this book, to give a sufficient number of extracts 
to bring out that picture clearly, it seems best here 
to make a short summary of the main features of 
these diaries. 

It will be almost incredible to many of the 
alumnae that Mrs. Wheaton's chief interest in 
life was not the Seminary. It became so in her 
later years, but in the fifties and sixties, though it 
was already very dear to her, and she gave gen- 


erously of her time and thought to it, it was alto- 
gether secondary to her home Hfe. There never 
was a woman whose heart was more truly devoted 
to her own home and her own family than Mrs. 
Wheaton, judging from her diaries. There is 
seldom a day when she is not doing something for 
her "dear husband," from mending his clothing 
with her own skilful hands, or acting as his barber, 
or making ready the ribbons for the fine cattle he 
was to exhibit at the cattle-shows of which he was 
an enthusiastic patron, to taking care of him in his 
innumerable attacks of sick headache, or setting 
off at a moment's warning for a few days in Bos- 
ton, or for a long carriage drive, perhaps to Ver- 
mont in search of some new horse. Nor were her 
home cares for her husband alone. Her diaries 
are full of references to her "dear Matty," who 
made her home at the Wheatons for several years 
previous to her marriage, and who was equally an 
object of solicitude to Mrs. Wheaton when settled 
with her husband and children, subsequently, in 
Holmes Cottage. 

In the early days of the diaries, the family of 
Mrs. Wheaton's beloved youngest brother, General 
Samuel Austin Chapin, were living close beside 
her, while her brother himself was making his way 
among the California pioneers, and hardly a day 
passes without a reference to her sister-in-law and 


the dear children, Lizzie and Nettie and Ella. The 
anguish Mrs. Wheaton shows in her hasty entries 
describing the long illness and death of the little 
Ella eloquently testifies that she loved these chil- 
dren as if they had been her own. She was then 
far from well, but she shares all the mother's cares, 
even to the night-watches, and every day she finds 
some new way to alleviate the suffering. 

Her diaries show that her interest in the sick 
was not by any means confined to her own rela- 
tives. In those days of untrained nurses she often 
goes to watch with some neighbor who is ill, and 
even sometimes notes that she has prepared a body 
for burial. 

Her own brothers and sister seem to have been 
inexpressibly dear to her. The visiting among 
them is constant, her own house is always open to 
them, and no expression occurs more frequently in 
her diaries than this, such a one "came, to my 
great joy." 

She keeps an account of letters received and 
written, and their number is legion. 

Her hospitality is unbounded. Her large house 
is always full, often of people who had little claim 
upon her. 

Norton is a small village, but Mrs. Wheaton's 
list of callers is as formidable as that of any woman 
of society in a great metropolis. Day after day, 


from morning till evening, they are shown by her 
record to have come to her by the dozen. And day 
after day, she chronicles a long list of calls made 
in return. And these were all real calls, no proxies 
by card being even dreamed of. It really seems as 
if she must have had a personal interest in every 
man, woman, and child in the township of Nor- 
ton, for her acquaintances are not all found in the 
village, — she is constantly driving to the cop- 
per-works, to the Newcombs', and round Bowen 
Square in quest of one and another. 

If other callers fail, a group of Seminary teach- 
ers happen in to spend the evening. All the names 
so dear to the alumnse appear again and again, — 
Miss Cragin, Miss Larcom, Miss Blair, Miss Cole, 
Miss Carter, Miss Bourne, Miss Windsor, Miss 
Cutler, and oftenest of all, perhaps. Miss Melius, 
of whom Mrs. Wheaton once notes, " Miss Melius 
called, as she often kindly does." 

"Dec. 17, 1852. Mrs. Metcalf in, and helped 
me wipe dishes"! One of her first entries in regard 
to Mrs. Metcalf is, "Mrs. Metcalf reminds me of 
Miss Lyon." (My own father, of whose family 
Miss Lyon was a member in her school days at 
Ashfield, remarked the same resemblance.) May 
15, 1851, Mrs. \\^eaton records: "Mrs. Metcalfs 
mother to dine." 

The tea parties she gives to ten, twenty, thirty, 


and sometimes as many as seventy of her neighbors, 
must have taxed her own strength as vv^ell as that 
of her staff of servants severely, for there is no hint 
of caterers in those early days. Mrs. Wheaton 
never hesitated to put her own efficient hand to any 
work to be done, and she understood all the mys- 
teries of baking, churning, preserving, pickhng, 
making sausage meat, etc., etc., as well as if she 
had had no other occupations in life. A neighbor 
dies on Thanksgiving Day, 1859. Mrs. Wheaton 
is there to help. Buys meat and makes cake for 
the funeral. April 28, i860, she frosts fifteen loaves 
of cake for a May-Day tea party of two hundred 
people at the church. 

When her servants deserted her — for even 
Mrs. Wheaton was not without her trials with 
servants, though her comments upon them are 
brief — she apparently at once took all their 
work upon her own shoulders, and her husband 
and visitors were still as well provided for as if all 
had gone smoothly in the kitchen. 

There are few complaints of her servants in 
these diaries. Of one servant she mentions a "flare 
up," and adds, "O for a quiet, wise spirit," and 
the next day she notes a "talk" with the offender. 
Yet Mrs. Wheaton's spirit was not of the kind that 
is easily ruled. She could be very angry. If her 
whole nature had not been filled to overflowing 

[ 100 ] 

with love, her very integrity of character, her scorn 
of all shirking of duty, of insincerity, of v^^eak 
yielding to temptation, would have made her a 
harsh woman. Mrs. Smith says: "Her anger was 
different from that of most people. Slight displea- 
sure sometimes manifested itself in an accession 
of dignity and formality, but when at rare intervals, 
after a slow accumulation of wrath, she was really 
angry, the severity of her mien and the unapproach- 
able dignity of her person, to which were added a 
few well chosen words of unmistakable portent, 
were simply overwhelming. It is but fair to say 
that it was generally righteous indignation, called 
forth only by a serious grievance, or what reason- 
ably appeared to her as such. Her forbearance 
was much more remarkably in evidence, as well 
as her constant watchfulness and effort for the 
comfort and happiness of those around her." 

Once, her diary reports, her cook gets "tipsy" 
and departs for Boston. A week later she returns 
penitent and Mrs. Wheaton forgives her, but two 
or three months hence is forced to dismiss her, on 
which occasion, the entry for the day concludes, 
"I very tired and unwell." Of one servant, whom 
she had to discharge, she remarks grimly, "Enjoy 
absence of S. after 5J years." In general, her notes 
referring to her servants breathe the deepest in- 
terest in them. She employed a colored man and 

[ loi] 

his wife some time in the fifties, and reports them 
as satisfactory in the main, but grieves that they 
do not go to church. She seems to have persuaded 
them to mend their v^ays, for later she frequently 

mentions w^ith satisfaction, " and went 

to church to-day." Again and again, on her visits 
to Boston, she records, "went to see Caty," — a 
former servant. Once she writes, "Have felt tried 
about the unfaithfulness of those in our employ." 
July 23, i860, her day is full of hard work. Among 
other things she helps her man, Louis, to make 
butter. Louis is taken ill, and, tired as she is, she 
is up three times in the night to give him medicine. 
October 8, 1855, she mentions taking one of the 
maids to drive to gather chestnuts. She remembers 
not only her own servants but those at the Semi- 
nary, and in June invites a large party of them to 
eat strawberries. 

One striking fact about the diaries is their record 
of the amount of solid hard work Mrs. Wheaton 
does herself, — the sweeping, the dusting, and 
even the washing of windows. Perhaps her per- 
sonal labors account for the shining, sparkling 
neatness of the whole house. She is always "clear- 
ing out the attic," or putting a closet in order, or 
making up packages of one thing or another to 
send away. Mrs. Smith, speaking of the number- 
less details to which she gave her attention, says: 

[ 102 ] 

"For all this mastery of detail, there was also the 
larger grasp, the wider vision which could take in 
the whole, whether in household regulations or 
outside affairs of greater scope. A letter exists in 
which she gives a not unjust, but curious estimate 
of women, which we may hope is growing less true 
as time goes on. ' Ladies in general concentrate 
their energies on some one object of effort, and 
are persistent that it shall be prosecuted as they 
think best, where gentlemen usually have many 
objects for which to care, and have broader views. 
I may be mistaken in this opinion, and I know it 
does not apply to all ladies; I know of some beauti- 
ful exceptions.' She herself was certainly one of the 

The diaries record a vast amount of sewing, 
often including heavy mending. She is, of course, 
one of the first to avail herself of the newly-invented 
sewing machine. Then others must be benefited 
by it. "Stitching bosoms, collars, and wristbands 
for Lizzy, most of the day," is one of many elo- 
quent little entries in this connection. She appears 
not only to have bought but to have made much 
of the boarding-house linen herself, leaving the 
marking of it, however, to Mrs. Holmes and Miss 
Windsor (which will recall to the alumnae Miss 
Windsor's beautiful handwriting). She is generous 
even with the sewing machine itself. "Matty" 

[ 103 ] 

comes and uses it whenever she chooses. Once, 
Mrs. Wheaton sends it for "Matty" to use for four 
weeks in her own home. 

It will be seen that the Seminary did not fill her 
whole mind, in spite of the linen, but her lively 
interest in it is attested by innumerable entries. 
No one can forget the expression of ardent interest 
in her face on examination days. Her diary records 
every examination day that ever occurred, some- 
times with comments on the recitations or compo- 
sitions. She is in constant consultation with Mrs. 
Metcalf in regard to the welfare of the school. She 
and Mrs. Metcalf work together to formulate that 
famous printed code of rules tacked up in every 
room when the "new" boarding-house of 1856 
was built. She selects most of the furniture herself. 
It is she who sees to the cleaning of the boarding- 
houses in vacations, and to the trimming and 
sometimes the cutting of the trees on the lawn. 

No wonder that her entries so often close with 
the words, "Very weary;" for in the fifties and 
sixties Mrs. Wheaton was not at all well. She was 
under a doctor's care. She had undergone a dan- 
gerous surgical operation in 1850. Her entries in re- 
gard to this tell a heroic story. Sunday, November 3, 
she reports going to church all day. "It was com- 
munion season, and I could but feel that it might 
be the last I should attend on earth. O for a fitness 

[ 104 ] 

to sit down in that kingdom above!" On Mon- 
day she packs grapes, goes to a church meeting, 
and attends to the trimming of her bonnet. On 
Tuesday, works again on the grapes, puts things 
to rights in the attic, and packs for New York, 
leaving home about 4 o'clock with her husband 
and "Matty" for Stonington, where they took the 
boat. On Wednesday, they rested in New York, 
and Mr. Wheaton had one of his sick headaches, 
but there is no word of her own feelings. On 
Thursday came the consultation with the special- 
ist. The time for the operation was finally settled 
for November 30. After the consultation she did 
shopping, and later went to hear Jenny Lind. "I 
was not disappointed in her voice." Then they go 
home, and she resumes her usual labors, making 
no allusion to the trial before her. She even has 
a parlor and bedroom painted in the interval of 
waiting. She does sewing, attends the Seminary 
examinations, takes a very great interest in a 
revival at the Seminary, and goes to West Rox- 
bury for a Thanksgiving reunion at her brother 
Judson's. "Thursday, Nov. 28. A rainy Thanks- 
giving, but very pleasant. Mary, Willard, and 
Netty came last evening. So we have quite a 
family gathering." That is the whole entry. Yet 
the next day she started for New York. "Satur- 
day, Nov. 30. A pleasant day. — Saturday morning 

[ 105] 

at 8, arrived safely in Brooklyn and at eleven 
o'clock had a surgical operation performed by 
Dr. Pov^ers, successfully, skilfully. Grateful that 
I am through w^ith it safely." 

Though the operation was successful, and she 
had no return of the special trouble that had made 
it necessary, yet she had many other troubles in 
the follow^ing years, especially one with her eyes, 
which made her fearful of blindness. For this she 
had electrical treatment in Boston for a long time. 
Indeed, for many years to come, she seems to 
have been seldom out of the hands of one famous 
doctor or another for various ills, though she always 
relied on Dr. Round, of Norton, and later, on his 
son. Dr. Arthur Round, for regular attendance 
on herself and all her family. 

Her ill-health at this period of her life, together 
with many private sorrows and anxieties, seems to 
have made a real change in her manner. She ap- 
pears to have become much more reserved and 
less demonstrative after this time. 

We judge this to be so partly from the fact that 
the reports of the earlier Seminary pupils dwell 
so much more on Mrs. Wheaton's "pleasing" 
manners and sociable relations to the schoolgirls, 
and so much less on her dignity and reserve than 
those of the later students. While her manners 
were always pleasing, because of their sincerity 

[ io6 ] 

and kindness, and while, to the end of her Hfe, her 
interest in all the girls as individuals never failed, 
yet, after fifty, her personal intercourse with the 
schoolgirls was apparently much less intimate 
than it had once been. One of the most distin- 
guished of the graduates of the early sixties writes 
that she knew little about Mrs. Wheaton, except 
that Mrs. Metcalf often said, "How should you 
like to have Mrs. Wheaton know that you had 
done such or such a thing?" so that to her Mrs. 
Wheaton was a sort of bugbear, notwithstanding 
that she was invariably kind. 

Another pupil of the early seventies, who entered 
the school at a very early age and continued in it 
seven years, says that in all that time she never 
had an interview with Mrs. Wheaton. Yet she felt 
her debt to Mrs. Wheaton, and on visiting Norton, 
later, she called upon her and was cordially re- 
ceived, Mrs. Wheaton showing interest in all that 
concerned her, and taking her to drive. She con- 
cludes : "Think how great an influence Mrs. 
Wheaton had on my Hfe, and yet I never spoke 
to her while at Norton! The greatest influence in 
my life was Norton, yet I did not realize her part 
in it till long after my school days were over." 

These are only a few of the examples that might 
be cited to show that the girls of later days knew 
much less of Mrs. Wheaton than the earlier pupils 

[ 107 ] 

did. There were exceptions, of course, to the rule, 
but probably the attitude of mind of most of the 
Seminary girls towards Mrs. Wheaton in her 
elder years would have been best translated by 
addressing her as "Your Most Serene Highness." 

The entries in her diaries, too, now become still 
more laconic than at first. In the early numbers 
she is always speaking of "dear Sister Mary," 
"dear Matty," "my beloved bro. Adolphus," 
"precious bro' Judson," "dear bro' Austin," "my 
dear husband," etc., etc. Later, she often omits 
the adjective, though there is abundant evidence 
that her feelings were as warm as ever. 

She always noted anniversaries of all kinds, and 
on her birthdays she often makes some special 
entry. September 27, 1857, she writes, "Birthday, 
48. I would desire to live anew to my Saviour. Oh! 
how far along in life's journey! Almost done with 
earth." What would she have said if she could 
have known that she had then lived barely half 
her life, her death occurring only a few months 
before her 96th birthday ? 

Tired as she was during these days, she never 
let her fatigue interfere with her duties. A char- 
acteristic entry after one of her great tea parties 
reads, "I very tired . . . swept up and looked 
tidy as a weary body could." Perhaps we should 
say it would have been better for her if she had been 

[ 108] 

less conscientious and had not "swept up," but 
certainly she chose the pathway that led to long 
life, and, quite unconscious of all schemes of mental 
heahng, she seems to have practised it. No doubt 
an unswept room would have so jarred her nerves 
as to have tired her more than the sweeping. 

The Wheatons passed the winter of 1857-58 in 
Boston, Mr. Wheaton being then a member of 
the Governor's Council. Mrs. Wheaton writes to 
her sister, Mrs. Judson, under the date of February 
I, 1858: — 

"Tuesday p. m,, 12 ult. when I was just beginning 
to put my shoulder to the work of getting ready 
to shut up house, the thought was born, 'Can I 
take hold and help push forward a social gathering 
and raise the 1^225.00' which Mr. Rogerson had 
just been telHng us was due from our society and 
greatly needed, but [which he] supposed could not 
be raised till spring .? While I was thinking it 
over, in came Mrs. West. I asked her if she sup- 
posed we could be galvanized into life again and 
take hold of the affair } Suffice it to say, it went 
forward. Notice by an address from a committee 
of ladies was read on the next Sabbath, and the 
People invited to attend the gathering the next 
Wednesday evening at Seminary Hall. A beautiful 
evening it was and a beautiful entertainment. In 
one room we had all the choice paintings and en- 

[ 109 ] 

gravings in the neighborhood. They were more 
than enough to cover the walls and such as I 
should not hesitate to ask city friends to see. In 
this room, too, was my drawing of the Victoria 
Regia, adjusted on easels and explained by a lady 
— admission 5 cts. Another room, partially filled 
with pines and other evergreens forming a bower, 
and glittering with stars made of gold paper, 
was called Sibyl's Cave. Here sat a beautiful 
young lady looking as queenly as Zenobia her- 
self. She said nothing but handed to those who 
entered and approached her a note with some 
pleasing or amusing sentence — admission 5 or 6 
cents. Our entrance fee was 25 cts. Oysters, pre- 
pared in various ways, together with ice cream,, 
tea, coffee, cake, etc., made a fine treat for the 
appetite. Our greenhouse was stripped of flowers 
(which are not numerous at this season of the year) 
and made up in tiny bouquets, some of which 
were carried round to sell by little Susie, a beau- 
tiful little niece of Mrs. Metcalf's. But most of 
them were sold at auction — a seminarist acting as 
auctioneer. There was a good deal of spirited and 
playful bidding. The flowers sold for $6.00. 

" God seemed to bless us in everything. We felt 
we were doing his work, and committed our way 
to him. The net proceeds of the gathering were 
$126.1 J f znd the balance was made out by sub- 

[ 1.0] 

scription, so that the Friday evening following, a 
receipt was in our hands for ^225.00, which we 
had paid into the Treasury. 

"I suppose there never was a time to appeal to 
our people when so little money was in their pos- 
session/ and yet the effort was crowned with suc- 
cess, and more than all the money, such loving 
hearts seemed to be awakened!!" 

Mrs. Wheaton was deeply interested in all public 
affairs, and her diaries are full of allusions to them. 
The visit of Kossuth to this country in 1852, the 
jubilee in Boston on September 18 of that same 
year, on the completion of the first railway to Can- 
ada, — a jubilee in which the Wheatons took part, 
being on their way home from one of their many de- 
lightful carriage trips to the White Mountains, — 
the taking of Sevastopol in 1855, Dr. Kane's Arctic 
expedition, the visit of the Prince of Wales to the 
United States in i860, the death of Prince Albert 
in 1861, and scores of similar events figure in these 
little books. Her heart was greatly moved by the 
slavery question. A well-written letter, from Henry 
Box Brown, dated 1849, was preserved by her, 
thanking her for a generous gift, aiding him to 
buy his wife and children, still in slavery. Follow- 

^ It will be remembered that in the winter of 1857-58, a 
wave of " hard times" passed over the whole country, pro- 
ducing almost a panic. 

[ HI] 

ing his signature she has written in pencil, "Who 
was dehvered from slavery by being packed in a 
box and sent off as merchandise." 

In 1854, Mrs. Wheaton's diary notes "Nebraska 
Bill defeated in the House." In 1855 lectures on 
Slavery begin to multiply. "March 28, 1856. Lec- 
ture on Kansas. Oh, that God would spare Kansas 
from the curse of slavery!" "June 25, Kansas 
Meeting at Seminary." July 24, she goes with Mr. 
Wheaton to Boston, to the American Convention, 
to which he was a delegate. August 5, Mr. Whea- 
ton goes to Fremont Club in Norton. 

From the entry of January 4, 1861, "National 
Fast on account of the South Seceding," to that of 
April 10, 1865, when she reports Lee's surrender, 
the allusions to public events are strewn thickly 
over the pages. "Feb. 23, 1861. A. Lincoln reached 
Washington this morning." "Ap. 13. Tidings 
that war had commenced at Fort Sumter." "Ap. 
16. War news very exciting. Soldiers leaving for 

Norton feels the effects of the war. "Ap. 27. 
Army shirts for the Seminary." Many of the 
alumnae will remember how the hundred girls 
made a hundred shirts hy handy in one day, at a 
time when government had not yet organized 
means for fitting out the improvised army. "Ap. 
23. Young ladies very zealous to do the work." 

[ "2] 

"Ap. 25. Mr. Wheaton goes to Taunton to Mass 
Meeting for the army." "Ap. 26. Flag raised," 
"May 18. Rode to Attleboro and saw soldiers 
drilling." "June 9. Sermon very patriotic." 
"June 17. Sewing flag." The alumnae will re- 
member the flag they made themselves by sewing 
strips of bunting together, and the stirring song 
Miss Larcom wrote for the occasion. "July 2. 
Home Circle sewed on Army Shirts." "July 3. 
Went to Camp." "July 6. Called at boarding- 
house and Mrs. Lothrop's about Havelocks." 
"July II. Drove to camp of 7th regiment. They 
break camp and go to Washington to-morrow." 
"July 19. News of great battle at Bull's Head" 
(sic). "Oct. 31. Very stormy. What will become 
of our fleet that sailed on Tuesday .f*" "Nov. 26. 
Batting for soldiers' quilts." 

There are many indications of her personal 
work for the soldiers, but those given may suffice. 
Moreover, she suflFered personal losses in the war. 
Her entry after the battle of Gettysburg reports 
two relatives wounded and one killed. One of 
the wounded, Edward Chapin, the son of her 
brother Nicholas, died from his wounds a few 
weeks later. He was one of that splendid band of 
young Harvard men, of high rank as scholars, who 
gave up a college course and entered the army. 
He volunteered as a private, but had become a 

[ 113] 

sergeant in the short time that intervened between 
his enUstment and death. 

She records the emancipation of the slaves, and 
later one of the entries reads: "Packed garments 
for freed people." She is happy over the close of 
the war, and then mourns the death of Lincoln, 
helping in the arrangement for the memorial 
funeral services in his honor at Norton. 

Every reader of the diaries must be struck by 
Mrs. Wheaton's love of religious services. In the 
earlier years she seems always to have been present 
at three services on Sundays, and also in her Sun- 
day-school class. That she did not lightly miss 
a service will be seen by such an entry as that of 
June 17, 1854, when, after being up half the night 
with "intense pain," she goes to two services and 
Sunday-school, though she adds "not to eve. meet- 
ing." Naturally she reports being "up again" the 
following night, and though she then consulted 
a doctor, it is not till August 12 that she writes: 
"Oh, how grateful for freedom from pain!" 

No preacher could have had a more attentive 
and appreciative listener. She records every text 
in her diary, in full in the early years, and later by 
quoting chapter and verse. She often adds some 
comment. She never criticises the minister, — her 
veneration for ministers seems to have been un- 
bounded, — but she often speaks of the help and 

[ 114] 

comfort she has received from the sermon. "If / 
were in right state of mind, what blessing from such 
preaching!" she writes. She takes a deep interest 
in her Sunday-school class, but often laments that 
she is not a very good teacher, especially when she 
has only a few scholars, while other classes are full. 
Once she writes, "Met S. S. Class. What a privi- 
lege! But oh, how stupid." It is her own stupidity 
she refers to. Her delight at receiving from her 
class at Christmas, 1866, "a beautiful vase in wax," 
sets us thinking rather sadly that Mrs. Wheaton, 
who gave so much, received very few presents 

Her attendance on religious services was not 
confined to those on Sunday. She held a weekly 
female prayer meeting at her own house for a 
long series of years, and she was a frequent and 
interested listener to the Friday evening speakers 
at the Seminary. She never seems to have looked 
upon attendance at these many services as a duty, 
but to have regarded it as her highest pleasure. 
When she spends a winter in Boston she seems to 
have felt it her greatest privilege to attend religious 
meetings day after day and evening after evening. 
She never makes travelling an excuse for not going 
to church. In all the various journeys she and Mr. 
Wheaton take together, they always rest on Sunday, 
and go faithfully to church wherever they may be. 

[ "S] 

If detained at home, either by her own illness or 
that of others of the family, she records her deep 
enjoyment in reading her Bible or some religious 
book, though once she writes: "Read my Bible. 
How much I lose by not reading it more!" Yet 
she probably read it diligently, for it is not unusual 
for her to mention rising early for private devo- 
tional exercises. The entry for November 12, 1859, 
is characteristic: "Rose at 4, and after spending 
an hour in my room, went to Saturday morning 
duties." Her life was not spent in " visions " but in 
"duties." Her active duties were many, but she 
was never satisfied unless her inward spirit was 
the true one in performing them. September 14, 
1859, she writes: "I dropped a word or two that 
cast a shadow. I am sorry." " Oh, for meekness 
and wisdom!" she cries out in some domestic trial. 
Indeed, her constant appeal for divine help is very 
touching all through the diaries. Moreover, she 
never forgets to give thanks for the mercies received. 

Though her very life seems to be in her complete 
dependence upon God, yet her creed — in the 
earlier days at least — was an iron one, and the 
fear of God often seems to overshadow his love. 

Such reserve and dignity as Mrs. Wheaton's is 
very often accompanied by pride of character. 
But Mrs. Wheaton was singularly humble. In her 
diaries there is not one entry that would indicate 

[ "6] 

that she ever thought of herself more highly than 
she ought to think. Indeed, what is most marked 
in them is that she does not seem to think of her- 
self at all, except as she occasionally makes some 
exclamation showing how far she felt herself to 
fall short of her own standards. "My class, but 
oh, how little I do!" "O this anxious heart! when 
will it rest V October i6, 1853, she writes: "Oh! 
for a heart to be wholly the Lord's!" Those who 
remember her last illness fifty-two years later, 
will realize that this had been her constant prayer 
through all these years. 

There is no gossip in the diaries and no fault- 
finding. If it is necessary for her to note any injury 
done to herself, it is in the fewest of words. That 
she always forgave those who were sorry for having 
done wrong is everywhere evident. There is no 
doubt that she forgave fully many very great in- 
juries. Indeed, no one could read these diaries 
without being impressed with the feeling that here 
was a woman whose life did not centre in herself, 
but who was constantly striving to be "wholly the 



In the hope of restoring Mr. Wheaton's failing 
health the Wheatons spent the summer of 1862 
abroad, sailing from Boston on the Niagara, April 
16. They were accompanied by their friend, Major 
David E. Holman, who had business in placing a 
patent in Europe. The passage was very rough, 
and Mrs. Wheaton was not only seasick, but timid. 
At last she struggled on deck. She writes in her 
journal: "I could find none who sympathized with 
me in apprehending danger to the ship. The Eng- 
lish have a confidence in one of Cunard's steamers 
that seems to set aside the superintending provi- 
dence of God." Nevertheless, she records a "feel- 
ing of quiet trust" during the voyage, which is 
characteristic of her. Naturally timid, she had 
so firm a reliance herself on "the providence of 
God" that in the most trying circumstances all 
through her life, she always appeared calm and 

Of the voyage, she says: "I can never tell the 
sweet, grateful emotions that filled my heart as 
day after day kind acts and kind words met me. 

[ "8] 

Friendship never seemed so precious. If God had 
not strengthened and essentially aided me through 
friends, I know not what I could have done in 
leaving things safe at home." 

Her first impression of Liverpool leads her to the 
conclusion that enough wines, brandies, etc., are 
sold there "to furnish the world with means of 

"At evening," she says, "a servant comes in, 
draws the curtains around the bed, so you may be 
thoroughly poisoned by your own breathing. Of 
course I undid what they did." 

The party went almost immediately to London, 
where they spent about half of the time of their 
absence from home. There they soon settled them- 
selves in a quiet street in a good quarter, taking a 
suite of rooms in a family lodging-house and hav- 
ing their meals sent in to their own parlor, giving 
them a very home-like feeling. The rooms were 
opposite some botanic gardens, and Mrs. Wheaton 
was delighted with the trees in bloom and the sing- 
ing of the birds. She was also interested in the 
equipages of the nobility constantly passing her 
windows, and wrote to her "dear Matty" that she 
wished the little Holmes boys were beside her to 
see the powdered footmen and coachmen in their 
fine liveries, and the richly-dressed ladies in the 


In London, she met many old friends, among 
whom she saw frequently Mrs. Fowler (Lydia 
Folger), an early pupil and teacher in the Seminary, 
who knew London thoroughly, and proved an ex- 
cellent guide. Mrs. Fowler had a lively disposi- 
tion, and made one of the Wheaton party on the 
"Darby Day," of which neither she nor Mrs. 
Wheaton could ever afterwards speak without 
laughing. But for all that, and though the Whea- 
tons naturally gravitated towards any place where 
fine horses were to be seen (witness their great 
interest in the horse-taming exhibitions of Rarey 
and others), yet Mrs. Wheaton's diary testifies that 
she did not escape some qualms of conscience over 
the experience. 

In London, the Wheatons looked about them 
in a leisurely way, seeing all the great sights that 
everybody sees. It is characteristic that the first 
time Mrs. Wheaton walked out, she visited the 
National Gallery, and that her first Sunday was 
spent in listening to Spurgeon. She was thrilled 
by the singing of the 6000 members of Spurgeon's 
congregation. The choral service at St. Paul's also 
aifected her deeply. " The sound, as it reverberated 
from the high arches, seemed as I have imagined 
the heavenly strains might, to a soul just released 
from its clay tenement." She describes the many 
layers of coffins that inclose the dust of Wellington, 

[ 120 ] 

and copies the dozen and more titles on the in- 
scription plate, adding, "and a most extroardinary 
inscription for mortal man it is!" 

At Westminster Abbey she says she "could never 
tell" the effect on her mind. After giving a long 
description of it, she says, "The touch of time on 
the edifice enters your soul." But she was not left 
to her own emotions. "After looking at these 
famous chairs" (the coronation chairs), she writes: 
"The party with the verger passed to the other side 
of the shrine, when, all of a sudden, the verger 
turned back, and exclaimed, *I should n't have 
thought you would have done that the moment 
my eye was off from you.' / looked back, and lo!!! 
there was my Husband just hooking up the railing 
that enclosed the coronation chair. He had been 
and taken a seat in it, tho. I imagine it was a short 
sitting. When we told our guide outside the Abbey, 
he exclaimed almost with horror that he did n't 
suppose one in 10,000 did it." 

At the Tower, and even at Hampton Court 
which delighted her, the associations with Henry 
Vni brought home to her almost too vividly his 
enormities. Even with the glories of the crown 
jewels before her eyes, she says she cares much 
more for the paintings and statuary than for the 

At Whitefield's Chapel, she recalls that White- 

[ I"] 

field's remains rest at Newburyport, Mass. She 
says, " I saw them many years ago and took the 
skull in my hands — a liberty that should never 
be allowed with the sainted dead." 

Passing Smithfield, and remembering John 
Rogers and his nine small children, she writes in a 
letter home, "Oh, how often has my childish heart 
swelled as I looked at the picture in my little 

Windsor Castle was a great disappointment to 
her, because it looked like a fortress to keep out 
foes rather than a palace to live in. The guard of 
1900 soldiers; the doors unlocked by their guide and 
locked after they had passed through ; the points 
from which there were beautiful views, but which 
seemed "fitted for reconnoitring an enemy," — by 
all these things "a peace-loving spirit is pained. 
My very breathing seemed oppressed." She 
thought, however, that the monument to the Prin- 
cess Charlotte was the most beautiful she had ever 
seen. The visit concluded with a survey of the 
Royal stables. With all her love of horses, Mrs. 
Wheaton was much disturbed by the extrava- 
gance she saw here, and concludes: "I felt dis- 
gusted with Royalty, and steamed back to London 
by the first train, — to my pleasant little parlor, — 
pitying poor Victoria and her many penniless sub- 
jects." That Mrs. Wheaton thought often about 

[ 122 ] 

the "penniless subjects" is shown by her visits to 
the Ragged Schools and the Foundling. 

A characteristic incident of the London visit 
w^as Mrs. Wheaton's going to the salesrooms of 
Wheeler & Wilson's Sew^ing Machines to get some 
stitching done. Her work was refused on the 
ground that everybody was too busy to under- 
take it. On this, Mrs. Wheaton inquired whether 
there would be any objection to her using one of 
the machines herself. None being made, she 
seated herself calmly and accomplished her pur- 

All through her journey, America was much in 
her thoughts. She was distressed that the English 
showed so little sympathy in our war. At the Inter- 
national Exhibition she was troubled at the "small 
and dusty" exhibit from the United States. At the 
government arsenal at Woolwich, however, she 
learned a fact that showed England was not alto- 
gether independent of America. She records: 
"When the news of the battle between the Merri- 
mac and Monitor reached here, they dismissed 
4000 men who were at work on war vessels that 
they now deem useless, and are discussing the best 
plans for ironclad vessels." 

All her party were interested in spending a day 
at L( .?)uton, where 20,000 people were engaged 
in making straw braid, and in comparing the work 

[ 123 ] 

with that of Mr. Wheaton's own straw shop in 

She writes that she had "depended" on being 
with her "countrymen" in London at their festival 
at the Crystal Palace, on the Fourth of July; but 
an invitation from friends she had known in 
America, Mr. and Mrs. Muntz, to visit their beauti- 
ful home at Southampton caused her to give up 
her plan. Before returning to London, the party 
visited the mother of Mrs. Muntz in the Isle of 
Wight, where Mrs. Wheaton was as much inter- 
ested in the localities connected with "The Dairy- 
man's Daughter" and "Little Jane," as with the 
Queen's Palace at Osborne. On their way back 
to London they saw Salisbury Plain, from whose 
shepherd, it may be, Mrs. Wheaton had learned 
the lesson of never complaining of the weather. 
They also saw Mr. Miiller's school of iioo chil- 
dren, entirely supported by answers to prayer. 
They visited Bristol, and saw the "most beautiful 
stained glass windows in England in St. Mary 
RedclifF Church," in whose tower Chatterton 
found his manuscripts. Speaking of the cathedral 
of Bristol, Mrs. Wheaton writes to her sister Mary: 
"I expressed the wish while there to call to us the 
graduates of W. F. Seminary and stand with them 
by the remains of Bishop Butler, and those of 
Whateley, both of whom rest here." 

[ 124] 

A little detour led the party to the Wye, and to 
Tintern Abbey, which, as might be expected, 
touched Mrs. Wheaton deeply. She says: "If I 
ever felt like invoking the Muses, it was at this 

A few days among the fine scenery in the south 
of Wales, and then the Wheatons returned to 
London, July lo, and made their arrangements for 
a short continental trip. On July i8, they left 
London for Paris via Folkstone and Boulogne. 
In Paris they spent ten days. Mrs. Wheaton, as 
usual, enjoyed the picture galleries, visiting the 
Louvre, the Luxembourg, and Versailles (where 
the Grand Trianon is to her the "most charming 
spot"). She was delighted with the Bois de Bou- 
logne, w^ith the Gobelin tapestries, and with the 
grounds and forest at Fontainebleau. 

Among Mrs. Wheaton's treasures were several 
letters of introduction from the long-time friend 
of the Wheatons', Rev. Mr. Hovey, written to 
ministers of American chapels in various places. 
In that to Dr. McClintock, of the chapel at Paris, 
the writer says, "the chapel which they [the 
Wheatons] have helped to build." 

From Paris they proceeded by way of Dijon, 
Macon, and Lyons to Geneva, where they not only 
saw the usual sights, but sat in the pulpit chair of 
John Calvin, in which John Knox had also sat, 

[ 125] 

without any remonstrance from a horrified verger. 
Mrs. Wheaton's love for fine scenery was deeply 
gratified by her little Swiss journey, and her pocket 
diary is full of exclamations over its magnificence. 
They went by boat to Vevay, then by diligence to 
Berne, to Basle. Leaving Switzerland, they passed 
through Strasburg, Baden, Heidelberg, and Frank- 
fort, and then down the Rhine to Cologne, "a day 
of great interest," and via Brussels back to London. 

They had still one pleasant duty remaining be- 
fore they sailed for home. Before leaving Norton, 
the citizens of the village had held a public meet- 
ing, Mr. Annes A. Lincoln, Jr., Moderator, in 
which an address had been prepared to be pre- 
sented by Mr. Wheaton to the town of Chipping- 
Norton in England, whence the early settlers of the 
American Norton had set forth. The address was 
accompanied by a copy of the history of the town, 
and a map of the township. 

Accordingly, on their way to Liverpool, the 
Wheatons stopped at Chipping-Norton, and Mr. 
Wheaton delivered all the gifts into the hands of 
the Mayor, who later returned an address of thanks, 
and with it, on behalf of his townsmen, sent a 
lithographic view of the town of Norton, England, 
to the town in the United States, though apparently 
the lithograph was never received. The Wheatons 
took passage on the Great Eastern, saihng August 

[ "6] 

i6. The passage home was easier than that out, 
but that Mrs. Wheaton had not quite conquered 
her timidity appears from an entry in connection 
with some sports of the sailors on deck. "I feared 
the ship might suffer from neglect of duty, as so 
many of the hands were engaged." 

They landed in New York August 27, and 
reached home in the evening of August 29, where 
they received an enthusiastic welcome from the 
servants, who had everything in good order for 
them; from the "dear Matty," who had superin- 
tended all affairs in their absence, even to sending 
flowers from the garden constantly to the friends 
Mrs. Wheaton had been in the habit of remember- 
ing, and devoting their currants to making currant 
shrub for the sick soldiers; and from Mr. and Mrs. 
Beane ; ^ doubtless, too, from the "Jerry" (whether 
dog or horse, we do not know) to whom, in one of 
her letters, Mrs. Wheaton sends a "loving pat on 
the head." 

On the Sunday after the return home, Mrs. 
Wheaton notes staying after the church service 
"to see the presentation of gifts to Edwin Barrows 
and five others going to war," Mr. Barrows being 
,the member of the present board of Seminary 
trustees who has now been longest in office. Thus 

^ Mr. Beane, who had married Miss Knight, was at that time 
pastor of the Trinitarian Congregational Church. 

[ 127 ] 

the Wheatons were again brought face to face with 
the war. On September 17, Mrs. Wheaton de- 
scribes a Soldiers' Tea Party, with the volunteers 
at the supper table, and her great astonishment 
when her neighbor, Rev. Mr. Lothrop, presented a 
"delightful photograph album" to herself and Mr. 

Inspired, perhaps, by her experience in Paris, 
she, with Mrs. Holmes, joined a French class at 
the Seminary under Professor Du Bois, whom 
many of the alumnae will remember as an enter- 
taining Frenchman who had invented what he 
believed to be a short cut to French conversation, 
based on the thorough mastery of the verbs. Mrs. 
Wheaton was now 53 years old, but she bought a 
French Testament and went to work with enthusi- 
asm, forgetting, however, none of her regular du- 
ties, — or irregular ones either, for her diary often 
notes, "Sewing for the soldiers," etc. And yet on 
the last night of 1862 she writes in her diary: "Oh, 
that this year bore a better account of my steward- 
ship. 'Slothful servant' may well be written against 
my record." Then she adds, "To-morrow we hope 
3 or 4 millions of slaves will be set at liberty by 
the President, A. Lincoln. Proclamation as a 
'military necessity.'" 



"Every tree and shrub dressed in New Year's 
Bridal of pure snow. The Neck Woods was sur- 
passingly beautiful. I rode with Husband through 
it." This is the entry in Mrs. Wheaton's diary for 
January 2, 1865. The sleigh-ride through Neck 
Woods was the last of the many beautiful drives 
the Wheatons took together. 

On January 7 Mr. Wheaton was taken danger- 
ously ill. There were no trained nurses in those days, 
but all the neighbors the Wheatons had helped 
so often in times of trouble gathered around them 
now, and among the watchers by the sick bed we 
read the names of Mr. Wild, Mr. Edwin Barrows, 
Mrs. Metcalf, Mr. Cobb, Mr. Annes Lincoln, 
"Sister Mary," Mr. Rogerson, and Mrs. Beane. 
"Dear Matty" came from her distant home on 
January 15, and Mr. Wheaton exclaimed: "Thank 
God for this, thank you for this!" On the i6th 
he was delirious and called for his wife in heart- 
rending tones. On the 17th Mrs. Wheaton writes: 
"At 5 called the family. At 5^ he called for singing, 
and said, 'I am grounded in Christ.' The singing 

[ 129 ] 

soothed him and he fell asleep. He never woke, 
but died gently." 

Mrs. Wheaton kept the letters of sympathy 
received at this time all her life. It is striking to see 
how many of the writers speak of Mr. Wheaton 
as having given them personal help in one way or 
another. From the tributes to him, Mrs. Smith's 
paper quotes "a very few." "Sister Mary" grieves 
for " a beloved and respected brother-in-law," and 
writes: "The grave has closed over your dearest 
earthly friend; may all your loss be made up to you 
in a sweet union with Christ." Mrs. Cowles writes : 
"I want once more to look on the precious face 
which has always looked so kindly on me. The 
great black space between is bridged over by 
thoughts of his sent over to you, as well as by 
thoughts of yours which go every minute to him. 
Everything everywhere will be so blended with 
his memory as to be doubly dear. Where can you 
go in your house or out of it, where his image, 
his plans, his work, his smile, will not meet and 
greet you .? I feel sure that your life will be more 
than ever given to blessing the world, that interest 
in the neighbor will be your medicine." Mrs. 
Holmes writes: "That sweet face, so calm and 
peaceful, with that body so chastely arrayed for the 
last time, appears to me many, many times in the 
day; and I feel the last kind words to me have 

[ 130 ] 

been spoken, the last generous act has been done, 
and the many sympathizing emotions that found ex- 
pression in many ways to the afflicted will never- 
more be felt; but I love to think of him in heaven, 
among the rescued from this world's trials and 
temptations, — forever at rest, — occupying that 
'humble place' in the kingdom for which he often 
petitioned in prayer." 

Mrs. Smith also quotes from the diaries : " Heart's 
mourning for the dear one. His face is sweet in 
death." " The dear face and form are forever buried 
from my sight. I cannot realize that I shall never 
see him more." Sunday in church: "The beginning 
of going without the one on whom I have leaned 
for thirty-five years." "My heart is waking up 
more and more to the reality that my precious 
Husband has gone." Under great pressure of 
business cares: "This has been a very trying day. 
Ah! that dear one foresaw it." "Sabbath eve is 
the most trying of all the week." "Very sad heart. 
My dear Husband's absence seems more real than 
ever before. I removed his things from the bureau 
for Jennie to occupy. She came at eve." "Jennie 
and I set out for Uxbridge. For thirty-six years my 
dear husband and I had spent our Thanksgiving to- 
gether. Now he is bound in the embrace of death 
and I go without him." Mrs. Smith says: "The 
anniversaries of her marriage were always kept 

[ 131] 

with almost religious regard. June 25, 1870, she 
writes: 'This has been the forty-first anniversary 
of my marriage. I still hold them sacred.' " 

A gentleman who knew the Wheatons well has 
summed up in a few forcible words the story of 
Mrs. Wheaton's relation to her husband. Having 
spoken of her "quiet devotion" to him, he con- 
tinues, "While always exceedingly deferential in 
her attitude towards him, she very tactfully ad- 
vised and at times restrained what would have 
been hasty and injudicious action on his part. . . , 
In Mrs. Wheaton were combined in an unusual 
degree rare judgment and rare diplomacy." 

By Mr. Wheaton's will, Mrs. Wheaton was 
given the use of the bulk of his property during 
her life; but the most valuable part of it, an estate 
on Winter Street, in Boston, was to go to the Semi- 
nary after her death. This estate had been bought 
by Judge Wheaton many years before, when Win- 
ter Street was still a residence section of the city, 
as a home for his daughter, Mrs. Strong, but the 
title had never passed out of the Wheaton family 
(Dr. Strong did not long survive his wife). That 
part of the city had now been given up entirely 
to business, and the property had increased very 
largely in value. 

Whether Mrs. Wheaton suggested this clause 
in the will, we do not know, though it is not un- 

[ 132 ] 

likely; but that she cordially approved of it is 
shown by her action many years later. In 1890, — 
perhaps because of the increase in the value of the 
estate, — by Mrs. Wheaton's initiative, an act of 
the legislature v^as passed enabling the Seminary to 
hold real estate to the amount of ^500,000 more 
than had been previously allowed. Soon after the 
passage of the act, however, a new question arose 
suggested by a parallel case in connection with 
Cornell University. Cornell had been founded by 
special charter, which gave it a limited right to 
hold real estate. A Mr. Fiske made a large bequest 
to it, much exceeding this limited amount. After his 
death the New York legislature passed an act to 
enable the University to hold real estate to the 
required amount and more. But the New York 
court decided that the act was not effective; that 
the bequest was void, so that the residuary legatees 
took the estate immediately upon the death of the 

In the recent decision (1907) of the Salisbury 
will case in this State, the Massachusetts court 
took a different view of the matter; but in 1890 no 
similar case had been tried in Massachusetts, and 
it was evident that if the court in this State should 
agree with that of New York, the property that 
Mr. Wheaton had willed to the Seminary would 
belong to Mrs. Wheaton as his residuary legatee. 

[ ^33 ] 

Therefore, if it had been her wish to control that 
property, she had good reason to suppose that she 
could do so. Now that the enabling act had been 
passed, however, it was within her power to make 
Mr. Wheaton's will effective by naming the Semi- 
nary in her own will as residuary legatee. This was 
done. It might have been done in any case, even 
if Mrs. Wheaton had not personally wished to 
benefit the Seminary, for there is no doubt she 
would have conscientiously carried out what she 
knew to be her husband's intention without taking 
advantage of any legal technicality. Nevertheless, 
the fact remains that it was Mrs. Wheaton's own 
deliberate decision that the Seminary should re- 
ceive this large addition to its funds! It was she 
who actually made effective the large gift of her 
husband during the years before the Salisbury 
will had been tested.* In view of this, it is no ex- 
aggeration to say that Wheaton Seminary, from 
first to last, has owed its very life to Mrs. Wheaton. 
Mr. Wheaton died January 17,1865. How soon 
after her husband's death Mrs. Wheaton took 
up firmly the new duties that fell to her share, and 
how unselfishly she fulfilled them, will be seen by 
the following letter, bearing date July 12, 1865: — 

* Shortly before the close of Mrs. Wheaton's life, another 
enabling act was passed by which the Seminary may now hold 
more than a million dollars' worth of property. 

[ 134 ] 

To THE Trustees of Wheaton Female Semi- 

Gentlemen^ — Among the papers of my lamented 
husband I find a note of hand given by the Treas- 
urer of your Board, the balance of which now due 
is Thirty-five hundred dollars. 

This claim I cheerfully relinquish and inclose the 
note, with assurances of unabated interest and ten- 
der regard for the Institution that stands out the 
Representative of the departed Founder and Patron. 
Its prosperity will ever be the solace of my life. 
I thank you for expressions of sympathy, and the 
request that I continue to feel the same liberty as 
formerly to make suggestions relative to the inter- 
ests of the school. 

With sentiments of high regard, I remain very 
respectfully, Your friend, 

E. B. Wheaton. 

At the time this letter was written Mrs. Wheaton 
was so pressed for money that it is known that she 
sold some of her jewels to avoid disposing of cer- 
tain pieces of the property at a sacrifice. 

Under date of July ii, 1866, we find some reso- 
lutions of the trustees, thanking Mrs. Wheaton 
for a gift of the portrait of her husband, to which 
is added in pencil, "This gift is all the more accept- 
able as the Donor has so courteously and kindly 

accomplished a purpose of the Trustees in refer- 
ence to a portrait for the Institution." 

From this time to the end of her life Mrs. 
Wheaton's gifts to the Seminary flowed in a con- 
stant stream. 

The death of Mr. Wheaton wrought a great 
change in Mrs. Wheaton's life, though, as she con- 
tinued to live quietly in the old home, this was not 
evident to most of her acquaintances. Until this 
time her chief work had been the management of 
her household. Of this w^ork her niece, Mrs. 
Frank A. Hewins (Anna G. Chapin), writes: "My 
aunt was an almost perfect housekeeper. As a 
child I can remember how everything from the 
carriage house to the attic was always in order; in 
every closet and every drawer nothing seemed to 
be out of place, and yet one did not feel that nothing 
could be touched for fear of displacing it. It was 
natural for her to be very methodical." 

Of course, such perfect management of a large, 
hospitable home was enough to tax the energies 
of the housekeeper to the utmost, even if she had 
had no outside interests, such as those connected 
with the Seminary, the church, and the social life 
of the village. So that after her husband's death, 
when the cares of business and of the farm de- 
volved upon her, it became necessary for her to 
transfer a part, at least, of the oversight of the house- 

[ 136 5 

hold to others. This was the more needful be- 
cause the Civil War had caused changes in the 
business world such that the Wheaton property 
was in jeopardy, and it was only by the greatest 
vigilance, extending over some years, that it was 
possible to weather the financial storm. She was 
so fortunate as to have the help of her brothers in 
her business affairs, particularly the very efficient 
help of her brother Adolphus. Her letters to him 
show that she consulted him at every step. 

In April she had the great happiness of again 
welcoming her brother Austin to Massachusetts 
after his eleven years' absence in California. The 
few months he passed at the East before return- 
ing to his family on the Pacific shore seem to have 
been a deep comfort to her in her sorrow. 

Meantime, her household cares were lightened 
by several friends. Miss Charlotte Sawyer, a 
dearly loved sister of Mrs. Holmes, always a 
familiar visitor at the Wheatons', now remained 
in the household for almost a year. One of the 
loveliest of Mrs. Wheaton's many lovely nieces, 
Miss Jennie Chapin (afterwards Mrs. Pearce), of 
West Roxbury, came to Norton to be her aunt's 
companion, and for several years, indeed almost 
to the time of her marriage, she added grace and 
brightness to the saddened home. Mrs. Wheaton 
gathered other young people about her. Miss 

[ ^Z1 ] 

Mary Anna Fox, the adopted daughter of Mrs. 
Wheaton's sister, Mrs. Judson, made one of the 
family much of the time, being a student at the 
Seminary. Mary, her youngest niece, the little 
daughter of her brother Adolphus, Mrs. Wheaton 
appears to have kept with her all the time that the 
parents could be persuaded to spare the child. A 
few years later both Mary and her cousin Anna, 
from West Roxbury, became pupils at the Semi- 
nary, and a large part of their time was spent with 
their aunt. 

Mrs. Wheaton's loving heart went out to all 
the young people, but she needed more experienced 
help in the management of her domestic affairs. 
The friend to whom she now turned, and who be- 
came her companion, was Mrs. Samuel Beane, 
once Miss Eliza R. Knight. The friendship be- 
tween Mrs. Wheaton and Mrs. Beane was already 
of long standing, for Mrs. Beane was the early 
principal of Wheaton who had arranged the first 
regular course of study, and had designed its ap- 
propriate seal — a fountain, with the motto : " Who 
drinks will thirst for more." Miss Knight became 
principal before she was twenty-five years old, but 
she had much dignity and executive ability, to- 
gether with enthusiasm and culture, and was a 
powerful help to Mrs- Wheaton in the object near- 
est to Mrs. Wheaton's heart. But like most of 

[ 138] 

the early principals, she had soon resigned her posi- 
tion to become the wife of a minister, her wedding 
taking place at the Wheaton mansion. 

Though Mrs. Wheaton and Mrs. Beane were 
separated from 1841 to i860, their warm friend- 
ship continued, and in i860 their intimacy was 
renewed, for Mr. Beane then became pastor of the 
church of which the Wheatons were members. 
Mrs. Beane's two daughters now entered the Sem- 
inary, and once more their mother became person- 
ally interested in it. Then, too, she began to be 
deeply interested in the town, as she continued to 
be all her life. In both these directions she and 
Mrs. Wheaton were constantly working together, 
and their friendship became more and more firmly 
cemented. In 1865, a new bond united them, for 
both became widows in the same year. October 
23, Mrs. Wheaton's diary records of Mrs. Beane: 
"Her home is over in Norton. She has gone to 
Worcester. My heart is sad." 

Mrs. Beane was left with very small means. 
For a time she lived in Worcester, making a charm- 
ing home for her eldest daughter, then a teacher 
in the High School there, and receiving into the 
family a fellow teacher of her daughter. In this 
home Mrs. Beane did almost all the housework 
herself cheerfully, and thoroughly, until she fell 
downstairs, breaking both arms. Then the home 

[ 139 ] 

had to be given up. She recovered slowly, but she 
could never hope to do manual labor again. 

It was then that Mrs. Wheaton invited her to 
Norton as her own companion, and very soon 
many of the housekeeping cares were transferred 
to her capable and intelligent management. Mrs. 
Beane's ideas of neatness and order and thrift 
were entirely in harmony with those of Mrs. 
Wheaton, and she had had experience in managing 
both a large and a small family. Mrs. Wheaton 
could leave all details to her with the certainty 
that nothing would be neglected. She needed such 
a helper, for outside interests claimed more and 
more of her attention. 

Mrs. Beane had no special aptitude for business, 
— the bent of her mind was towards literature 
rather, — but Mrs. Wheaton, at this period of her 
life, was not a woman who could have left her 
business to the care of another, in any case. She 
felt too great a responsibility for the right use of 
all her possessions. Mrs. Hewins writes: "As a 
business woman she was very clear headed. If a 
tract of land was to be ploughed, she knew how 
much grass seed was necessary to sow it with. 
She knew how much grass should be cut from cer- 
tain lots. When a house was to be shingled, she 
would sit down at her desk and calculate how many 
shingles it would be necessary to order." 

[ 140 ] 

It was often said of her by business men that 
her judgment in regard to investments was sel- 
dom at fault. But she had other responsibilities 
besides her farm and her investments. These 
brought her money, but it was equally important 
to her that the money should be well spent. It 
may be doubted whether she ever spent even a 
dollar without asking herself whether she was 
spending it in the wisest possible way. 

Miss Mary B. Briggs, for many years a Semi- 
nary teacher, writes: "First and foremost, the 
school was to be kept up . . . for was not that 
the answer to her own prayer and her own timid 
suggestion ? (She must have been a marvellously 
wise young woman to have carried that point in 
her early married life.) Then came the church 
. . . and finally the town, with its varied interests. 
She reminds me of some of those queens who, 
forgetting their fatherland, are wholly devoted to 
the land of their adoption." 

Probably Mrs. Wheaton could not have found 
in the whole world another companion so deeply 
interested in all three of these main objects of 
her life as Mrs. Beane. In youth, Mrs. Beane had 
been principal of the school almost at its founda- 
tion. Later, both her daughters had been gradu- 
ated there, and at different times afterwards they 
were both among its teachers. In the church of 

[ HI ] 

Norton, too, Mrs. Beane had a warm personal 
interest, not only from her early connection with it, 
but because she had entered so heartily into her 
husband's efforts to make it a power in the com- 
munity during his pastorate. In the town itself 
she had become much interested while in the posi- 
tion of a minister's wife, for she was a large- 
natured, warm-hearted woman. 

This companionship lasted for more than thirty 
years, until Mrs. Beane died in 1899 at the age of 
85. Such an intimate, lifelong friendship would 
be impossible to many women, especially to wo- 
men differing so much in temperament as Mrs. 
Wheaton and Mrs. Beane. But the great aims of 
life were the same for both, and both had that 
strong sense of duty that unhesitatingly subordi- 
nates small matters to large ones. Of course there 
must have been friction, as there always is in any 
intimate relation, yet they were both high-minded 
women, and they bore the test. Moreover, they 
were both working for certain definite and noble 
ends outside of themselves, and that is an import- 
ant factor in any enduring friendship. 

Though it is true that, in one sense, Mrs. 
Wheaton was little influenced by others, for if a 
course of action did not commend itself to her 
judgment she would not adopt it because it 
seemed good to some dear friend, nevertheless, 

[ 142] 

she had none of that obstinate pride that leads 
one to insist on planning everything without ad- 
vice from others. She was not seeking to glorify 
herself in her charities, but to do all the good in 
her power. And Mrs. Beane was able to make 
many excellent suggestions. She had had a some- 
what wide experience of life, and she also had 
good judgment. She knew some needs of the town 
of Norton even better than Mrs. Wheaton herself. 
The very fact that Mrs. Wheaton was rich pre- 
vented many people from speaking to her of their 
circumstances as plainly as they could do to Mrs. 
Beane, who was merely a friendly neighbor, who 
had to count her own pennies as carefully as they 
did themselves. Mrs. Beane was also a less re- 
served person than Mrs. Wheaton. Her social 
instincts were strong, and while both her dignity 
and her refinement saved her from encouraging 
gossip, she had a very natural manner that put 
others at their ease in talking with her. As a result 
of these conditions, Mrs. Beane often knew of some 
real need in the town that would not have come 
to Mrs. Wheaton's knowledge without her. She 
was a generous woman, and would have been glad 
to give help herself. This she could not do, and 
she fully realized that it was not for her to decide 
how Mrs. Wheaton should spend her money. It 
was, however, often in her power to lay the case 

[ 143] 

before Mrs. Wheaton, and this she would do simply 
and with delicacy. That was all that it was neces- 
sary to do. If Mrs. Wheaton saw that her help 
was needed, she did not require urging to give it, 
that is, unless, in her own mind, she had already 
appropriated all her income to objects that seemed 
to her more important. In this way, Mrs. Beane 
was a power in the town, and many, both of the 
public and the private benefactions of Mrs. 
Wheaton, owed their origin to some word of hers. 
Later in life, through the legacy of a friend, Mrs. 
Beane became independent of Mrs. Wheaton, but 
she remained an honored inmate of the home, 
though then too old and feeble to be of practical 
use in the household, for both her daughters had 
died in middle life, and no one in the world was 
so near to her as Mrs. Wheaton. 

These two daughters for many years brought an 
element of younger life into the household. They 
were teachers, and were seldom free to visit Norton, 
but in all their vacations Mrs. Wheaton welcomed 
them to her home as cordially as she welcomed her 
own nieces. She welcomed not only the daughters, 
but often their friends. She would sometimes make 
a house-party expressly for them, and, with all her 
reserve and dignity, she would enjoy the fun and 
frolic of the guests as much as the guests did them- 
selves. There was a good deal of fun at such a 

[ H4 ] 

time, for both the daughters had inherited a strong 
sense of humor from their mother, and though, 
like most people, they stood a little in awe of Mrs. 
Wheaton, they filled the house with liveliness. 

Though the heart of Mrs. Wheaton, a childless 
widow, was often sad, as her diaries show, yet her 
great love for others kept it sweet and sound. It 
overflowed especially towards her own relatives. 

Mrs. Hewins writes: "Her manner, which she 
inherited from her mother, was always dignified, 
but she was very warm in her affections, and never 
forgot her early friends. I think if there was any 
occasion she enjoyed more than another, it was 
the Thanksgiving Day of years ago. Before the 
separations had come in the different families, 
it was the custom for many years to have a family 
reunion at that time, the meeting being held first 
with one, and then the following year with another 
member of the family. Aunt E. enjoyed so much 
the evening before Thanksgiving, when old days 
were talked over! But as one after another passed 
away, the gathering was given up." 

I remember myself a letter received from Mrs. 
Wheaton just after her 90th Thanksgiving Day, 
in which, though it was very short, she spoke with 
such affectionate delight of a visit on that day from 
her New York nephew, that it is evident she re- 
tained the old family feeling to the end. 



No story of Mrs. Wheaton's life can be com- 
plete without at least an outline of the life of the 
Seminary, which was in so large a measure of her 
own creation, which filled so large a place in her 
thoughts, and whose teachers were her intimate 

During these years the Seminary had been de- 
veloping steadily and beautifully. 

Mrs. Caroline Cutler Metcalf became its prin- 
cipal in 1850. She was a vigorous and capable 
woman with remarkable executive ability, and her 
administration was the longest in the history of 
the school — twenty-six years. After her retire- 
ment in 1876, her place was worthily filled for three 
years by Miss Ellen M. Haskell, then for a year 
by Miss Martha H. Sprague, while in 1880, Miss 
A. Ellen Stanton, who had previously been a 
teacher in the school for nine years, succeeded 
to the principalship, which she held for eighteen 
years, thus making her connection with the school 
even longer than that of Mrs. Metcalf. Through 

[ 1463 

her association with Mrs. Metcalf, though the two 
were very unlike, both in character and in methods 
of government, there was a certain continuity of 
development in the institution from Mrs. Metcalf's 
accession in 1850 to Miss Stanton's retirement in 
1897, a period covering almost two thirds of its 
history. A link between these two administrations 
was Miss Clara M. Pike, who, entering the school 
as a very young girl, was graduated in the Class of 
1866, and being almost immediately recalled by 
Mrs. Metcalf as a teacher of natural science, held 
that position till after the retirement of Miss 

To give the full history of this period of the life 
of the Seminary would require a volume by itself. 
All that the scope of the present work will allow, 
is an attempt to give some impression of the spirit 
of the school during these years. This was so en- 
thusiastically and yet so truly done in some un- 
written remarks recently made by Miss Julia Os- 
good to the N. E. Wheaton Club that she was asked 
to put them into the form of a paper for this book. 
As Miss Osgood was a pupil at Wheaton under 
Mrs. Metcalf, and as she returned to the Seminary 
as lecturer on Art a quarter of a century later, after 
a rich and varied experience of life, many years 
of which had been spent in the study of the picture 
galleries of Europe, she was peculiarly fitted to 

[ H7 ] 

appreciate the steady development of the Seminary, 
in which Mrs. Wheaton's ideals have been con- 
stantly worked out in larger and more beautiful 
forms from decade to decade. 

Before giving her paper, however, some special 
features of Mrs. Metcalf's administration should 
perhaps be noted. 

Under her care the school made great progress. 
She was a woman thoroughly awake to all the 
great educational movements of the time, and, one 
by one, she placed each of the main departments 
of the school on a strong and enduring foundation. 
Her greatest gift was her unerring judgment in 
the selection of her assistants. She not only clearly 
saw the kind of work she wanted done, but she 
knew how to choose exactly the right woman to do 
it. Having chosen her, she left her perfectly free 
as to methods. 

One of these teachers was Miss Lucy Larcom, 
who made the study of literature inspiring to every 
girl in her classes. At a time when the one great 
fault of the school was its high pressure, in her 
classes there was always a serene, untroubled at- 
mosphere. Her life was so elevated and beautiful, 
that without effort, and unconsciously, she shared 
it with all about her. A few words of hers at one 
of the annual breakfasts of the New York Wheaton 
Club, expressing her own feeling towards the girls, 

[ 148] 

may give a better idea of her than pages of com- 

She says she seems to have Hved once in Tenny- 
son's "Rosebud garden of girls." "The beauty 
of the hfe at Norton v^as the blending of wilderness 
and garden. The gardens looked out into meadows 
and woods, and meadow and wood crept up to 
meet the gardens. Pine forests and old apple 
orchards ran wild together. Meadowlarks and 
wood-thrushes came up and sang at the Seminary 
windows at sunrise, waking us before the 'rising 
bell.' Always there was a sort of wild flower fla- 
vor about the girls themselves, and the wildness 
did not make them less interesting. We were down 
in the wet meadows after violets and anemones 
and arethusas, in our rubber boots, or reciting bot- 
any in the arbor across the way in Mrs. Wheaton's 
garden, using ferns and rose leaves for book-marks 
in our logic or rhetoric or mental philosophy. 
Everything was breezy, fresh, unschooled, even in 
school. This combination of nature and cultivation 
made the charm of the school, and we learned 
there the lesson of life, that we are truly educated 
through all our existence by growing together, and 
by entering into the spirit of the growth around us. 
The garden need never be afraid of the wilderness, 
and the wilderness may always be at home in the 

[ 149 ] 

"All cultivated flowers were wild flowers once. 
Culture must have freedom. Nothing grows well 
without plenty of air. We need not fear other 
growths, but may be glad to grow among plants 
which have known difi'erent horizons and atmos- 
pheres from our own. As in the days when we 
were teachers and pupils together, we may drop 
those distinctive names, and feel that we are learn- 
ers and workers together in the wilderness-garden 
of the world." 

The report of the breakfast says: "Miss Larcom 
concluded by proposing the sentiment, which was 
responded to with great warmth and fervor, ' Our 
dear and honored Mrs. Wheaton, and her lovely 
and beloved wild-flower garden of girls!'" 

Who could fill Miss Larcom's place ? Yet many 
of the alumnae feel that in Miss Ann Eliza Carter,^ 
who carried on the work in literature after Miss 
Larcom laid it down, Mrs. Metcalf succeeded in 
finding another rare spirit, whose teaching, though 
inevitably difi^erent from Miss Larcom's, was of 
the finest quality. 

To the noble and scholarly work of Miss Mary 
E. Blair and her successors. Miss Mary B. Briggs, 
Miss Jeannie E. Woodbury (now Mrs. Annes A. 
Lincoln), and the Misses Emerson, it was due that 

^ Daughter of James G. Carter, called the "Father of Nor- 
mal Schools." 

[ ISO] 

history at Wheaton, in Mrs. Metcalf's day, was 
something entirely different from the mere text- 
book work in vogue in most girls' schools of the 
time. These teachers were quite unlike each other, 
but Mrs. Metcalf's clear vision saw the power in 
each, and that, by leaving them free, the Seminary 
would reap the full advantage of the gifts of all. 

Mrs. Metcalf always made a point of having 
some Normal School graduate among the members 
of her faculty, — a point much more important in 
the pre-coUegiate days of women than now, — for 
she wished the school to be in touch with the latest 
ideas of expert students of pedagogy. Among these 
women, Miss Mary J. Cragin, a teacher of real 
genius, put the department of mathematics — 
always an important one in the school — on such 
a solid basis that there was hardly a girls' school 
in the country whose work could compare with it; 
and through Miss Cragin's pupils, who succeeded 
her, the high standards then prevailing became 
permanent in the Seminary. 

When, in the early sixties, the first wave of inter- 
est in the natural sciences swept over the land, 
Mrs. Metcalf's keen eyes began their search for a 
competent teacher of the subject. Her choice of 
Miss Sarah E. Cole was a happy one, for Miss 
Cole combined two unusual qualities, — scientific 
thoroughness and a sensitive love of beauty. 


Though her work extended over only five years, its 
influence has never been lost. It w^as carried on 
along the lines she laid dov^n by several of her 
pupils, especially by Miss Pike, so long the head 
of the department of natural science, which soon 
became one of Wheaton's chief glories. While 
laboratory work developed more and more, it was 
never suffered to crowd out living beauty. 

Leading scientists were called in to supplement 
the work of the regular teachers. Norton was in 
easy communication with Boston, and professors 
of the Institute of Technology guided the work in 
physics, in chemistry, in mineralogy, in field 
geology, and in zoology. When, through the public- 
spirited generosity of Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, 
laboratory work in chemistry first became available 
to New England women, Mrs. Metcalf's teachers 
were among the first to take advantage of the new 
opportunities for study, cheerfully making the 
journey to Boston and back for the sake of in- 
struction. When the Teachers' School of Science 
was formed, Mrs. Metcalf's teachers were always 
among its pupils, 

A chemical laboratory was needed. Mrs. Whea- 
ton supplied it. Not very large, it was yet a 
model in its way. The same kind friend supplied 
the natural history cabinets, the observatory, with 
its excellent telescope, the set of compound micro- 


scopes for the botany class. The department was 
always fully abreast of the day in scientific equip- 
ment, and, at the same time, every girl learned to 
love the beauty of the outdoor world, a trait not 
always found in connection with scientific study, 
and yet a possession which many a woman would 
acknowledge to have made life far better worth 

Though a sound English education had been the 
ideal of the founders of the school, neither the 
Wheatons nor Mrs. Metcalf could by any means 
rest satisfied with that. Good instruction in Latin 
was provided; and French was now thoroughly 
taught, partly by native teachers of University 
training (what pupil can ever forget the fiery les- 
sons of Professor Alphonse Renaud, the refugee of 
1848 .''), and partly by high-bred American women 
who had lived many years abroad, among whom 
the alumnae will recall the names of Miss Mary 
Emma Peabody, Miss Caroline Marsh Crane, and 
Miss A. Ellen Stanton. Miss Crane, who had lived 
much in Italy with her uncle, Hon, George P. 
Marsh, also introduced the study of Italian at 

Mrs. Metcalf felt great interest in the depart- 

^ Miss Crane was lost in the wreck of the Schiller, and was 
seen "trying to comfort a frightened child just before the waves 
engulphed the sinking ship and with it the group on deck 
among whom she knelt in prayer." 

[ -53] 

ment of music, and it was in her day that a com- 
plete course in music was first laid out. She took 
care that the resident teachers should be real 
musicians, and that the girls should be taught good 
music, rather than that which is simply showy. 
Taking advantage of the proximity of Boston, she 
also employed famous Boston teachers for the more 
advanced pupils, and she encouraged the girls to 
go to the city for the best concerts. 

Always on the alert, always far-sighted, every 
new movement in education was noted by her, 
but never followed blindly. Elocution, gymnastics, 
etc., were not allowed to become fads, but were 
so treated as to be means of real development. 

Mrs. Metcalf, moreover, had a personal gift for 
the management of details. Many a woman owes 
to Mrs. Metcalf's training her neatness in dress 
and in the care of her home, her promptitude in re- 
turning borrowed articles, her regularity in keep- 
ing accounts, and a thousand other good habits 
that mean a great deal in the way of satisfactory 
living both to herself and to her family. 


It is nearly forty years since my school days 
ended, and there is a long vista behind me as on 
my birthday, 1907, I sit down to write a brief ap- 

[ 154] 

preciation of Wheaton Seminary, of its place among 
New England educational institutions, and of its 
influence on my own development. 

My first experience at boarding-school was in a 
large and richly-endowed institution, where I made 
delightful and lifelong friends. As far as my obser- 
vation extended, in this school the studies, with one 
exception, were conducted with strict adherence 
to the chosen text-book. This was the case even 
in English literature, and our readings in that de- 
partment were confined to the brief extracts given 
by the author whose book we studied. 

I was not wholly of the crowd, but walked aside, 
and endeavored to weigh and understand the life 
that surrounded me. Accordingly, I discovered 
that little mental development resulted from mere 
text-book instruction. The pupils' work was 
chiefly memorizing. I noticed they left school with 
little more intellectual maturity than they pos- 
sessed on entering. I also noted that there was 
but slight gain in bearing, breeding, or power of 

Later, I went to another endowed educational 
institution, and the same lack of progressive de- 
velopment in intellect and character was notice- 
able in every class. 

Then followed my introduction to Wheaton 
Seminary. When I entered, the Senior Class was a 


body of young women of earnest purpose, attrac- 
tive in bearing, and superior in general appear- 
ance to any graduating class I had seen elsewhere. 
From this I was led to look for material of unusual 
promise in the lower classes. On the contrary, 
many of the younger pupils, here as elsewhere, 
were marked by rusticity or provincialism, and 
inadequate power of self-expression; girls of whole- 
some stock and excellent natural endowments, but 
quite undeveloped. 

This change of the ordinary undeveloped girl 
into the winning and superior woman was the 
result of the wisest and noblest pedagogic ideals, 
as put in practice by the Wheaton faculty. 

From the beginning, I was overjoyed and lifted 
up by the body of fine women who became my 
teachers at Norton; and in no previous school had 
I found the equals of some four or five Wheaton 
instructors whom I came to know intimately. 

Foremost among them was Miss Mary J. Cragin, 
who combined such loveliness, intellect, and nobil- 
ity that she remains unique among the women I 
have met. At the time I knew her, she appeared 
to be the most intimate friend of all who surrounded 
her. I never heard of a case of jealousy among 
her girl lovers, nor did I hear of one who was not 
ofi^ered such a draught of love from Miss Cragm's 
true heart that to measure it seemed impossible. 

[ 156] 

She was a woman of versatility and ripe culture. 
She was clear and masterful in psychology. She 
was my best teacher in mathematics — she was 
my best teacher in whatever she taught me. I 
studied mathematical astronomy with her, and 
the heavens since then have been one of my richest 
sources of pleasure. With her I spent my first 
night-watch, tired and somewhat skeptical, await- 
ing the shower of the Leonides; and the shooting 
meteors of that night were so brilliant and tumultu- 
ous and multitudinous (1867) that it stands apart 
among my heavenly experiences. 

General literature with Miss Cragin was in itself 
a liberal education. One New Year's Day, some 
forty years ago, she rendered memorable by reading 
to us Robert Browning's poem, "Pippa Passes." 
Other women might have read it to us at Christ- 
mas or Easter ; Miss Cragin alone would be sure 
to do so on the day of days, the day the poem cele- 
brated. What she brought to us outside of our 
studies was amazing. 

No one person has ever done so much for me 
in regard to the understanding of music. She 
read to a little group of girls, of whom I was one, a 
critical estimate of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, 
published in the "St. Louis Journal of Speculative 
Philosophy." When we had read and discussed 
the Essay, Miss Cragin arranged to have an ac- 

[ 157] 

compHshed pianist come to Norton and play the 
Sonata for us. I was never so prepared as then 
to receive and perceive the soul of music. In other 
arts she w^as a correspondingly great stimulus. 

I see her nov\^, moving quickly and silently 
through the halls, an atmosphere of quiet joy 
seeming to emanate from her person. Or I see her 
in the class-room, her noble, clear-cut features 
worthy of the finest cameo; her eyes searching, but 
full of kindness; her enunciation clear and perfect. 
She was generally gowned in gray, a pale gray, 
with delicate blue at throat and waist, most charm- 
ing to the eye, especially so in a community where 
utility in dress was paramount. I should say she 
was the first woman I had ever seen artistically 
clad in a New England class-room. 

One of the last beautiful days I spent with Miss 
Cragin was June 4, 1868, towards the close of 
her last year at Wheaton, when a large party of 
"her girls" went with her to the woods, finding 
more wonderful flowers and living creatures than 
I have ever met on any subsequent excursion. 
She seemed to open our eyes to all the woodland 
inhabitants. I came home loaded with treasures, 
among them two freshly born Luna moths, held 
through our long tramp with great care, wings up, 
so as not to destroy the exquisite apple-green 
down of their plumage. 

[ 158] 

Among the distinguished Wheaton teachers, a 
prominent place is due to Miss Mary E. Blair. 
From her I first learned about the Ramayana and 
Mahabharata, and it was owing to this early stimu- 
lus that I was later led to study the remarkable 
German translations of these glorious Oriental 

Miss Blair was the first teacher who sent me to 
original sources. While studying the history of the 
Middle Ages in her classes, I fell in with a line of 
books quite new to me, and as interesting as the 
Arabian Nights had been in earlier days. Chief 
among them were Neander's "Church History" 
and Ranke's "History of the Popes." Not alone 
in class did Miss Blair share with us her intel- 
lectual riches. During her evening "half hour" 
in the girls' parlor she read to those who cared to 
listen wonderful bits from the world's great litera- 
tures; often reading in fluent English from a vol- 
ume of untranslated French plays, or other books 
as yet inaccessible to us. She had few if any inti- 
mates, but her position among the pupils was an 
enviable one. I have never seen a woman under 
similar conditions who was so loyally accepted 
at her true worth. We all understood her, or at 
least we understood her enough to be proud of her. 

• • • • ■ • • * ; 

[In the Natural Sciences, also, the methods at 

[ 159] 

Norton were stimulating.] A careful study was 
made of the birds and insects found in Norton. 
To each girl was assigned a particular species of 
bird to watch from its arrival in spring, through 
nest-building and the breeding period. The facts 
thus gathered were recorded by each observer in a 
series of monographs of genuine value on account 
of their verity. They are, I believe, among the 
school archives. 

I had already taken two courses in Botany with 
men whose names are now famous, but recognizing 
that better work was done at Wheaton in that 
branch, in my last term I studied Botany for the 
third time, gaining an interesting acquaintance 
with grasses, ferns, and mosses as well as the so- 
called flowering plants. Botany as thus studied 
has added materially to the delight of every new 
country I have visited, and has ever since been so 
thoroughly a part of myself that I can share it 
without efi^ort with every child who becomes my 
companion in wood or meadow. . . . [In my last 
term] I also reviewed the mathematics I had taken 
in other schools [studying them with one of the 
younger teachers]. For this reason I did not gradu- 
ate at Wheaton; I was already engaged as a teacher, 
and wanted to be familiar with the Wheaton 
methods of teaching the studies allotted to me. 
This necessitated the reviews of which I have 

[ i6o ] 

spoken, and prevented my taking Butler's "Anal- 
ogy" with the graduating class. 

• ••••••• 

Mention must be made of one of our visiting 
teachers, Mr. Stacy Baxter, selected by Mrs. Met- 
calf to instruct the girls as to the best delivery of 
their poems and essays. He was unique at that 
time, and would still be so among those who were 
once called "elocution teachers," and who are 
now styled "professors of vocal culture." Mr. 
Baxter taught primarily the beauty of simplicity, 
of modest fearlessness, of conscientious purity, 
and delicacy of enunciation. He stimulated us to 
be our best selves, and to express what was best 
in us by means of our voices. The few lessons I 
had from him rank among Wheaton's important 
gifts. Mr. Baxter's work in the school was in har- 
mony with the high character of the instruction 
in other departments, and his weekly visits were 
salutary and joy bringing. 

The next inquiry of moment is this: By whom 
were these invaluable teachers selected and held 
together, and how was it that each was allowed 
such freedom and individuality in her work ? 

To explain this we must turn to Mrs. Caroline 
C. Metcalf, Principal of Wheaton Seminary from 
1850 to 1876. While still a pupil, I ventured to 
ask Mrs. Metcalf how she managed year after year 

[ 161] 

to select and maintain a corps of such superior 
teachers. She answered that being human she 
of course made mistakes, but that she "neither 
continued in them nor repeated them." She also 
knew that freedom of method is the prime condition 
of excellence in teaching. In writing a recommen- 
dation for me, she said: "She will do good work, 
if you let her work in her own way." 

Mrs. Metcalf's period was one of broad hospi- 
tality at the Seminary. When I was a pupil at 
Wheaton my dear young brothers, coming to 
Norton for a day, dined with me at the Seminary 
table as a matter of course, and the same privilege 
was extended to cousins and friends. 

Lacking, perhaps, in some of the feminine 
graces, Mrs. Metcalf was none the less competent 
and powerful as an executive. I can think of her 
only as a great general, with deep knowledge of 
human nature, and keen appreciation of its vari- 
ous excellencies. She selected her lieutenants as 
with the power of a divining-rod. She tolerated, 
yea, supported the influence in the school of 
women with whom she was personally neither in 
tune nor touch, but whose superior gifts she willed 
to consecrate to the service of Wheaton. She was 
able and willing in certain directions to subordinate 
herself in order to permit fullest expansion to those 
whom she had elected to work under her. What 

[ 162] 

type of woman could have done more to advance 
the highest development of the Seminary ? 

I believed the Seminary had reached its acme 
in the sixties; but twenty-five years later I found 
it was still growing. It was hardly to be expected 
that a school which in the sixties was using meth- 
ods that to-day are still called ideal, should make 
marked advance in its curriculum, yet it had done 
so. The high standards of earlier days were main- 
tained, the library was enlarged, a collection of 
good photographs and Japanese prints was in- 
stalled, a well-equipped laboratory was added to 
the plant, modern languages were taught by native 
teachers, and the history and criticism of art was 
given a prominence accorded in few schools, for 
it was continued through all four years of the 


* The love of beauty had always been one of the vital forces 
in the education at Wheaton. No one who remembers the wo- 
men of the early and middle years of the Seminary can doubt 
that. When Mrs. Metcalf gave the school a half holiday one 
morning after a snowfall and sent the girls for a sleigh-ride 
through Neck Woods because Miss Cole had said they must 
see the Woods in their supreme beauty before one touch of 
sunshine had dissolved their charm, it was an act characteristic 
of the emphasis laid on essentials in the school. But in the early 
years, though nature was so loved, there was little opportunity 
there or anywhere in New England to study art. Yet after all, 
thanks to Mrs. Wheaton, who made a generous appropriation 
for the purpose, Wheaton was one of the very first schools in 
the country to have a good art department connected with its 

[ 163] 

It was, however, in the social atmosphere that 
the school had made most progress. Under Miss 
Stanton's jurisdiction the living-rooms became 
more attractive, some of the trivial rules were done 
away with, — for instance, there were no more 
"Sunday stairs," — Miss Stanton's high breeding 
and beautiful manners were an incentive to the 
girls in the direction of deportment. She was a 
gracious and delightful hostess, and dispensed the 
hospitality of the Seminary with the freedom Mrs. 
Metcalf's example had taught the children of 
Wheaton to rely upon. 

Miss Stanton had gathered about her in the 
nineties a body of teachers so unique and admirable 
that I could compare them with none others except 
the famous band of the sixties. Chief among them 
was Miss Clara M. Pike. Thoroughly equipped 
as a teacher of the Natural Sciences, she constantly 
raised the standard in her department. She had 
the love and confidence of all the girls, and watched 
over the details of their health and happiness with 
a wisdom and patience having its root in the most 

library, and encouraged by this, art-loving alumnae (notably 
Miss Eleanor Norcross, the artist) had added many treasures 
gathered in foreign travel. Both Miss Haskell and Miss Stan- 
ton had a genuine love of art, and later, vphen Miss Stanton 
placed the department under the management of Miss Osgood 
herself, it became one of the most inspiring as vv^ell as one of 
the most delightful departments of the school. — Ed. 

[ 164] 

beautiful spirit of motherhood. For more than 
thirty years she poured out in the service of Whea- 
ton all the riches of her heart and brain and enthu- 

The classics were taught by the thorough and 
scholarly Miss Elizabeth H. Palmer, who has since 
won Yale's Ph.D. and an important college posi- 
tion. For some time Miss Heloise E. Hersey di- 
rected the literature classes and lectured to the 
school every week. Later Miss Bertha K. Young 
(now professor at Mt. Holyoke) had charge of the 
department of literature, and was worthy of her 
predecessors. I cannot speak too highly of the 
standards she set for herself and her pupils. In- 
struction in German was given by Fraulein Struck, 
a native, well born and bred, and highly compe- 
tent, whose unique qualifications have since been 
recognized by one of our leading colleges. French 
was taught by Dr. Jean Mure, a Frenchman twice 
diplome of the University of France, and cultured 
in art, literature, and science. For a number of 
seasons. Professor Charles Young of Princeton, the 
leading authority on the sun, spent a week at the 
Seminary, lecturing twice daily to the whole school. 
The presence of this savant as a brief resident at 
Wheaton was a great stimulus to the girls in their 
study of science. Besides the teachers above men- 
tioned, there were many others in subordinate 

[ 165] 

positions who gave true service and are gratefully 

Looking back upon the Seminary at this period, 
there are but tv^o adverse criticisms that could 
be made, i. e.y the buildings and their equipment 
were inadequate to the growing demands of the 
public, and the rules of the school were in some 
directions too chafing for the expanding and self- 
directing girl of the approaching twentieth century. 
But the work was broad and delightful, the social 
life charming and intimate, and the guidance of 
Miss Stanton so based on integrity and tempered 
by graciousness and refinement, that I felt too 
many could not be brought under the Wheaton 
influences of that time. 

As we have seen that back of the eminent corps 
of teachers for which Wheaton has so long been 
noted, there stood a principal who was responsible 
for their selection and for the quality of their work, 
so back of teachers and principal was the board 
of trustees, and, most important of all, Mrs. 
Wheaton, who was, as it were, the cornerstone of 
the institution. 

Among the trustees I must mention the name 
of that benignant Christian gentleman. Dr. Plumb, 
whose long term of service has been a constant 
blessing to Wheaton Seminary. 

Mrs. Wheaton, in her simple and dignified 


dwelling opposite the Seminary, for seventy years 
worked out plans for the welfare of the school, 
gave it her love, her intellect, her fortune. In my 
period she was not personally known to the pupils 
till they became seniors and passed on into the 
Alumnae. Years later I realized that with full 
power to help or hinder, in the ultimate analysis, 
Mrs. Wheaton had always been the force that ad- 
vanced the school. She it was who guided and 
upheld the able lieutenants in the field. In final 
results, the Seminary was what Mrs. Wheaton 
willed it to be. 

For many years she was in closest contact with 
the beloved institution, hearing daily from the prin- 
cipal and head assistant every detail of life and 
work at the Seminary. So close was Mrs. Wheaton's 
union with these beloved instruments of her bounty 
that she could not bear the long separation entailed 
by the summer vacation, but made Miss Stanton 
and Miss Pike her guests during hot weather, sea- 
son after season, at the Isles of Shoals, where she 
spent her days planning for and brooding over the 
future of the Seminary. 

Few patrons have lived to see such full fruitage 
from the seed they planted as did Mrs. Wheaton. 
The alumnae, as Mrs. JuHa Ward Howe has re- 
marked, are "notable for their solidarity.'' Many 
of them have returned to the Seminary as teachers, 

[ 167] 

and made high records in educational work there 
and elsewhere. 

[Note by the Editor. Miss Osgood's paper here included 
a list of some of the leading alumnae who have distinguished 
themselves in various ways. But, as any such list must neces- 
sarily be very incomplete, it has been thought best to omit it, 
though it is fully recognized that the final value of the school 
and the real result of the work to which Mrs. Wheaton gave so 
much of her life, must consist in the character and usefulness 
of the women who were educated at the Seminary. The record 
is a fine one, and not less so for the undistinguished women 
who have put their best energies into the making of beautiful 
homes than for those whose names are known to the public] 

I have spoken briefly of the noble patroness, of 
the able principals and teachers, and of the unique 
methods of teaching. The main points I want to 
make are these: that Wheaton has stood for more 
than half a century for the highest educational 
ideals ; that she has led her students to original 
sources in nature, and to first-hand authorities in 
history and literature ; that she has trained her 
children to abandon sentimentalism and inherited 
prejudice, and to seek deep and just foundations 
for their beliefs; that she has fostered independence 
of thought; that development of character has 
been regarded as inseparable from proper develop- 
ment of intellect; that the instruction which led to 
these results was given by a band of women of 
rare ability and nobility, whose methods were m 
advance of the period; that they took the ordinary 

[ i68] 

girl and so wisely and lovingly directed her that 
she was no longer ordinary or commonplace, but 
had control of her own powers, had rich sources 
of pleasure and usefulness at her command, and 
knew where to look for further help and develop- 
ment. It is not too much to say that Wheaton 
women are very earnest in their lives, and that 
they centre in the community rather than in them- 
selves. Finally it appears that Wheaton was a 
school of life on a broad and natural scale, that 
it was so because Mrs. Wheaton was the informing 
power that sustained and directed it, and to her I 
again, and more publicly than has before been 
possible, give my profound salutation of love and 
gratitude for the gifts I received through her from 
Wheaton Seminary. 



The interest that Mrs. Wheaton always showed 
in the town of Norton is brought out clearly in the 
two following papers written for the Wheaton 
Memorial Meeting in 1906. 


bailey), class of 1864 

I was quite young when I knew Mrs. Wheaton, 
and have met her but few times in the nearly forty 
years since I left Norton. At first thought it would 
appear that her life had had no direct influence 
on mine. But I can see now that but for her I 
might never have been a pupil at Wheaton Semi- 

Soon after the death of my father,^ Dr. Blodgett 
— a dear friend of ours — supplied the pulpit at 
Norton, and asked Mr. Wheaton if he knew of 
any opportunity there for a widow with three 
young children to support and educate. Mrs. 
Wheaton reminded her husband of his desire to 
find some capable woman to take charge of his 
^ Mr. Bailey was a minister. 

[ 170 ] 

boarding-house connected with the new straw shop, 
and suggested that he go over to Attleboro and 
offer the position to this friend of Dr. Blodgett's. 
I remember well the day when Mr. Wheaton and 
Mr. Kelley drove up to our door. My mother sent 
us children out to play during their call, and we 
watched with eager curiosity until the carriage 
drove away. Then we learned that we were to go 
to Norton to live. 

Mrs. Wheaton was one of our first callers in 
the new home, and always showed kindly interest 
in my mother's welfare. It was through her that, 
when the straw business was given up, my mother 
had the chance to board the men who built the 
new boarding-house. 

I remember also, the summer when I was trying 
to earn the money for a new dress by picking and 
selling berries, that I usually found a ready sale 
for them at Mrs. Wheaton's door, and she fre- 
quently commended me when the berries were 
clean, large, and ripe. 

Another vivid picture is that of the annual 
evening parties at Mrs. Wheaton's, to which 
many of the church people were invited. This 
party and the reception at the Seminary were the 
great social events of the winter in those days, and 
I was a happy girl when I was old enough to be 
invited. It was from Mrs. Wheaton's gracious 

[i7> ] 

courtesy, and her kindly interest in each guest on 
these occasions, that I received my first lessons in 
social etiquette. I can see her queenly figure as 
she stood at the door to welcome us, — that pe- 
culiar forward movement of the body before the 
feet advanced, as she led us out to the dining- 
room: I taste again the crisp, thin biscuit which 
she always served, and I roam again through the 
upper rooms where the young people gathered for 
some game. 

Another time, after leaving school, A. W. was 
visiting me, and Mrs. Wheaton invited us to dine 
with her. A roast of beef was placed before Mrs. 
Wheaton, which she proceeded at once to carve, 
Mr. Wheaton meanwhile making ineffectual ef- 
forts to separate the joints in the boiled fowl at his 
end of the table. Presently Mrs. Wheaton said in 
a low tone to the waiter, " You may take this beef 
to Mr. Wheaton and bring the fowl to me," and 
on receiving it, she raised her glasses, — you will 
all recall that characteristic gesture, — applied her 
knife at once to the vital point, and the joints were 
quickly severed; and at the same time she kept up 
her lively interest in our conversation. That ex- 
ample of simple dignity and imperturbability was 
never forgotten. 

When my pupils have told me of their success in 
making the Park St. Cake from my Boston Cook 

[ 172 ] 

Book, I have taken great pride in saying to them, 
"That recipe was given to me when I began 
housekeeping, by Mrs. Wheaton." 

My mother often told me in later life of Mrs. 
Wheaton's sisterly interest in warning her of un- 
desirable companions for her children, of her soli- 
citude for my health after my first long illness, and 
her fears that I might form unwise friendships. 

My most tender memory of the woman whom 
we honor to-day is that of her neighborly and 
generous assistance to my mother during the last 
days of my brother's life. While many neighbors 
were really helpful in bringing in dainties to the 
sick one, or in sharing her untiring watch at his 
bedside, and others hindered more than they 
helped by their too frequent calls merely for in- 
quiry, Mrs. Wheaton gave most practical help by 
sending a large basket of cooked food for the fam- 
ily, with the promise to renew the supply as long 
as needed. 

I found, among some old papers in my desk, this 
note, the only one I ever received from Mrs. 

This note, which Mrs. Lincoln read at the meet- 
ing, consisted of only two lines. It was one of the 
first orders received by her for her now famous 
Cook Book, and was accompanied by a check. 

[ "^n ] 

CLASS OF 1896 

In the summer of 1829, ^^^ Hon. Laban M, 
Wheaton brought to the Httle town of Norton his 
bride, the beautiful EHza Chapin, of Uxb ridge, Mas- 
sachusetts. For 'seventy-six years Mrs. Wheaton 
was a resident of the tow .r life among the 

village people was a constant benediction. By her 
gracious sympathy, her gentle courtesy, and never- 
failing tact, she won the hearts of both young and 
old. Truly, she was an ideal Christian gentlewoman, 
whom the town deeply respected and loved. 

On the other hand, it was manifest that Mrs. 
Wheaton loved Norton. To her it represented the 
magic word, "Home." When summer came, 
however, for a few months, she left the village 
and spent her time at the Isles of Shoals, her favor- 
ite seashore resort. Nevertheless, when autumn 
brought her to the quiet town again, she often said 
to old acquaintances, "Dear old Norton! How 
glad I am to see it once more." 

It would be impossible to speak of all the bene- 
volent deeds and various philanthropies for the 
benefit of the townspeople which originated in this 
dear woman's heart. 

How Mrs. Wheaton loved the Seminary is un- 
derstood by all. It is not generally known how 

[ "74 ] 

pleased she was when a pupil from the town en- 
tered the school and later was graduated, nor 
does any one know how many girls, rich in am- 
bition, but poor in worldly goods, this kind-hearted 
friend enabled to attend the school. 

Nowhere is Mrs. Wheaton missed more than 
in the Trinitarian Congregational Church, of which 
she was an earnest member.* Until physically 
unfit to be present, she might have been seen on 
every Sabbath morning in her accustomed pew. 
The church was founded in 1832. From its organi- 
zation until the present time the Wheaton family 
have given most liberally towards its financial sup- 
port. In recent years Mrs. Wheaton presented the 
society with a cozy chapel, later remodelling and re- 
furnishing it, and gave a tower clock to the church, 
which is a constant reminder to the passer-by 
of her thoughtfulness. In 1882 the whole church 
was rebuilt, mainly at her expense. Besides all this 
Mrs. Wheaton regularly contributed most gener- 
ously to the church. The treasurer of the society 
often tells us that when funds were low an unex- 
pected check would come bearing her signature. 
At her death she left a gift of money to the church; 
but were not her love and devotion to the society, 
and the influence of her pure and noble life, the 
greatest gifts of all .? 

^ She was the last of its charter members. 
[ 175 ] 

On the town of Norton Mrs. Wheaton bestowed 
the generous gift of a free pubhc Hbrary, which 
adds to the long Hst of her good deeds. The hbrary 
building stands at the head of the main street of the 
town, on one of the choicest sites of the village. 
Besides the gift of building and grounds, this kind 
benefactress gave a check for $1000 for the pur- 
chase of books. Thus she ministered to the refine- 
ment, culture, and advancement of the citizens of 
Norton, who will always feel the uplifting inspira- 
tion of her presence when they behold the build- 
ing which will stand as a memorial to her life and 
name for many generations. 

A few years before Mrs. Wheaton's death she 
gave the grounds where the High School stands 
to the town. Although the Seminary was her first 
and best beloved object, she was greatly interested 
in this public school as well, and gave ;^iooo to- 
wards equipping the building with a laboratory. 

I have spoken solely of the large public bene- 
factions of our friend. Before concluding, I should 
like to tell of a few little kindnesses which sweet- 
ened the Hves of some of Mrs. Wheaton's neigh- 
bors. Half of these deeds of love will never be 
known, for Mrs. Wheaton never did good ostenta- 
tiously. However, there are many families in 
town who would tell you, if they were here, that 
in hours of affliction and poverty Mrs. Wheaton 


was to them an angel of mercy. At Christmastide 
there were many hearts surprised and gladdened 
by a generous present of money. During her resi- 
dence in the town a number of fires occurred, 
destroying the houses or barns of neighbors. To 
these unfortunate ones she sent her check. Mrs. 
Wheaton was sympathetic and broad-minded. 
The individuals helped were often newcomers to 
the town, and represented various nationalities 
and creeds. She was no respecter of persons in 
the narrow sense, and was kind, courteous, and 
affable to all sorts and conditions of men, and 
made everybody feel at home in her presence. 

During the last years of her life Mrs. Wheaton 
was seen but little outside of her own home. On 
all pleasant days, however, her carriage might 
have been seen; and we knew that the dear old 
lady was enjoying the delightful drives of Norton. 

Before she grew so feeble, she made many calls; 
and always welcomed friends at the Wheaton 
Mansion. Her interest in all about her was ever 
apparent, and in the last year of her life she was 
keenly enthusiastic over all improvements pro- 
posed in the town. Soon it will be a year since Mrs. 
Wheaton was among us. Her sweet face and 
gentle, kindly voice, will always be remembered 
by those whose privilege it was to know her. The 
children of future days will hear her name and 

[ -^n ] 

revere it. Thus she Hved among us: simply, 
quietly, beautifully radiating love and kindliness 
everyw^here around her. The tov^n of Norton will 
forever cherish and honor its benefactress, Mrs. 
EHza Bayhes Wheaton. 

The remodelling of the church, referred to by 
Miss Perry, v^as a matter of great interest to Mrs. 
Wheaton. All the Wheatons had taken part in the 
building and equipment of the original structure 
fifty years before, and in 1851 Mrs. Wheaton her- 
self had given an organ. It w^ould perhaps have 
been easier, and scarcely more costly, to demolish 
the old church in 1882, and build anew from the 
foundations, than to remodel it, but Mrs. Wheaton 
could not bring herself to destroy completely the 
house planned by the revered " Father Wheaton," 
in which her loved husband had worshipped. 
Accordingly the main walls were left standing, and 
the old bell, "Mother Wheaton's" gift, was re- 
tained, though everything else was changed. One 
of the alumnae recalls the stress she laid on making 
the seats very comfortable, saying earnestly that 
she wished the congregation to be really "at ease 
in Zion." 

A year or two earlier she had given a parsonage 
to the society. When the health of the minister 
had made it necessary for him to resign, and it 

[ 178] 

proved too heavy a tax on his strength to supply 
the pulpit himself for the three months before his 
resignation v^as to take effect, she at once sent the 
following letter to the church committee: — 

Dear Brethren, — In view of the condition 
of our Pastor's health, I am moved to say to you 
that I will be responsible for the expense of sup- 
plying the pulpit from this time to Sept. i, so that 
you can make this offer (through the Society) to 
the Pastor, to continue his salary, you paying that 
as usual as a Society, and supply the pulpit 
through my offer to you. 

Yours in Christian fellowship, 

E. B. Wheaton. 

Perhaps the pastor never knew that he was in- 
debted to Mrs. Wheaton personally for this relief. 

In 1885, Mrs. Wheaton paid ;^200 for the Trini- 
tarian Congregational Church, and an equal 
amount for the Unitarian as well, for perpetual 
membership in the General Theological Library 
Corporation of Boston, thus giving the pastors of 
both churches this valuable opportunity for study. 

Stanch Trinitarian as she was, she seems al- 
ways to have taken great pleasure in helping her 
Unitarian friends in all matters in which she could 
do so without accepting their creed. A letter from 

[ 179 ] 

one of the Unitarian ministers of Norton, asking 
her if she would allow some one employed by her 
to give him a day's service, begins: "I have been 
to you many times, asking that you would help 
me to carry out some plan to benefit the public," 
thus showing the cordial interest she took in all 
measures for the general good, whether initiated 
by her own sect or party, or not. 

The following letter from Rev. George H. Hub- 
bard of Haverhill, Mass., who was her minister 
from 1888 to 1896, shows the personal interest she 
felt in her pastor's family. 


I am very glad indeed to have the opportunity 
of contributing a few reminiscences to the biography 
of Mrs. Wheaton. ... I have every reason to 
remember her with pleasure and gratitude. She 
occupied a very prominent and vital place in the 
church of which I was pastor, . . . and I am sure 
that no other position save that of principal of the 
Seminary could have brought me into closer touch 
with her life or afforded better opportunity to dis- 
cover the deepest springs of her character. 

Coming to Norton as a young man not long out 
of the theological seminary, I brought my bride 
to the parsonage soon after the beginning of my 
ministry there. Can I ever forget the deep interest 

[ 180] 

manifested by Mrs. Wheaton in the furnishing of 
that first home, and in everything necessary for 
the comfort of its occupants ? That she had done 
much in the way of enlarging and refitting the 
house for my predecessor did not make her any 
less ready to do yet more for the newcomers. In 
fact, her hberahty in the expenditure of money 
for the comfort of her pastor or the necessities of 
her church was a marked characteristic of her life. 

That her provision was never meagre, but in- 
stead always exceeded expectation, a single inci- 
dent will show. In remodelling the church building 
some years before, the vestry had been left in the 
original condition. With the passing years, it had 
become a somewhat dingy and unattractive place, 
being seldom used for any gatherings. In view of 
a prospective need, however, I suggested the de- 
sirability of raising money that it might be put in 
order. On hearing of my plan, Mrs. Wheaton at 
once invited me to her home for a conference, and 
having questioned me carefully as to my wishes 
in the matter, assured me that she would see to it 
that they were carried out. This promise she ful- 
filled without delay, only departing from my plan 
in that she expended fifteen hundred dollars where 
I had asked for an outlay of not more than two or 
three hundred. This is but one example of many 
that might be given from my personal experience 

[ i8i ] 

of Mrs. Wheaton's habitually generous response 
to every appeal that commended itself to her judg- 

Nor were her generous gifts limited to her pastor 
and his family and the church. Perhaps there were 
few who knew as I did how manifold were her 
bounties to the poor of the town, or to those in any 
distress. A case of sickness or want in any home 
was often relieved by a gift from Mrs. Wheaton. 
No appeal was necessary. A simple statement of 
the case was sufficient to enlist her sympathy and 
insure her aid. And her interest in the town, and 
especially in the young people and their needs, con- 
tinually manifested itself in renewed gifts to the 
library, for which she had already provided a 
building that will be a lasting ornament to the vil- 
lage, and in making it possible for many a young 
woman to enjoy the privileges of the Seminary. 

It was not, however, simply as a "Lady Bounti- 
ful," freely and liberally meeting financial needs, 
that I remember Mrs. Wheaton. There were even 
more pleasant relations, as they were more direct 
and personal. I always felt that it required no little 
self-sacrifice on her part to approve the call of a 
man so young as myself to the Norton pastorate; 
for, as a matter of course, she would find more that 
was helpful in the ministrations of one of maturer 
mind and more conservative spirit. But I think she 

[ 182] 

put her own personal preferences in the back- 
ground as a concession to the desires and interests 
of the young people both in the town and in the 
Seminary. Naturally, her feeling toward the young 
pastor and his wife was somewhat motherly, and 
both of us recall gratefully many a word of coun- 
sel spoken by her, always in such a quiet, tactful 
way that no one else knew anything about it. 
When the little daughter came to our home, an 
event in which Mrs. Wheaton took the deepest in- 
terest, she very soon learned to speak of "Grandma 
Wheaton," and the title was accepted graciously 
as the most natural thing in the world. 

One word of the motherly advice of which I have 
spoken will never be forgotten. It was in the early 
days of my Norton ministry that she called my 
attention to the number of elderly people in the 
congregation who, hke herself, found some diffi- 
culty in catching all that was said from the pulpit, 
and suggested that many would appreciate it if the 
pastor would speak a Httle more slowly and a little 
more distinctly when preaching. The suggestion 
so kindly given was not unheeded, and many an 
aged person in subsequent parishes has had cause 
for gratitude to Mrs. Wheaton for the distinct pul- 
pit utterance which is largely due to this timely 

For a person of her years and conservative 

[ '83] 

nature, Mrs. Wheaton was remarkably tolerant 
in her attitude toward the newer outlook and 
modes of expression in theology. True, she was 
somewhat startled when her pastor exchanged for 
the first time with his Unitarian neighbor; and 
when the organization of a Christian Endeavor 
Society was suggested, she advised against undue 
haste in the matter, the movement being yet in its 
experimental stages; but, as the years went by, she 
heartily rejoiced in the growing friendliness of the 
two churches, and manifested a genuine and prac- 
tical interest in the work of the young people. 

The more than eight years of my Norton pastor- 
ate were marked with numberless deeds of kindness 
and words of friendly counsel from Mrs. Wheaton, 
and our removal to other fields never lessened her 
motherly interest in myself and the members of my 
family. This interest she continued to the very 
end, often extending to us a cordial welcome to the 
enjoyment of her large hospitality either at her 
home, or at the Shoals. 

I shall ever remember Mrs. Wheaton as one of 
the most prominent characters in that early parish, 
a lady of the old school, courtly but frank, cautious 
but tolerant, a bountiful giver, a firm friend, and a 
true Christian, seeking earnestly the welfare of her 
church, and the comfort and peace of her pastor. 



The close of the first fifty years of the hfe of the 
Seminary, in 1885, was marked by a special cele- 
bration. The most unique and charming feature 
of this celebration was due to Mrs. Wheaton's 
hospitality and generosity, for while in any case a 
hearty invitation to join in the exercises of the day 
would have been extended to all who had ever been 
connected with the school, Mrs. Wheaton could not 
be satisfied without a real visit from all the alumnae, 
and all the old teachers, and therefore beds and 
entertainment for two days were provided at her 
expense for all who could be prevailed upon to 
come. She included in her hospitality many of the 
leading pupils who did not graduate. Never in the 
world could there have been a more delightful 
renewal of the friendships of girlhood by middle- 
aged and elderly women than at the semicentennial 
anniversary of Wheaton Seminary. 

The school had now come to its blossoming time. 
In its earliest days, most of the energy of its man- 
agers had been employed in seeing that it was 
firmly and deeply rooted in good ground. In the 

[ 185 ] 

time of Mrs. Metcalf it had become a flourishing 
tree, full of vigorous green leaves. Now^ it w^as 
ready to put forth rich and beautiful flowers. 

Never was the old pun, "The best-bred girls are 
the Wheaten-bread girls" (imitating the boast that 
the best-bred boys are the Brown-bread boys), bet- 
ter sustained by the good manners of the school- 
girls than during the administration of Miss 
Stanton. The Alumnae of fifty years, returning to 
their Alma Mater, were touched and charmed by 
the beautiful deference shown to them by the 
schoolgirls of 1885, by their thoughtfulness for the 
comfort of others, by their gentle voices and lovely 

Mrs. Wheaton's own mansion was filled with the 
old principals of the school. At that time there had 
been ten of them, all of whom were living, and most 
of whom were present at the celebration. Mrs. 
Cowles (once Miss Caldwell) was there, with her 
eyes as bright, her cheeks as rosy, her brain as 
clear, and her interest in all good things as living 
as when, with but two assistants, she undertook 
the task of educating the Wheaton girls fifty years 
before in the one modest schoolhouse, now sur- 
rounded by several large, well-equipped buildings, 
in which the principal presided over a large corps 
of highly trained specialists. Mrs. Beane, Mrs. 
Barrows, Mrs. Emerson, Mrs. Holmes, were others 

[ 186] 

among the very early principals who came back, 
gray-haired to be sure, but with hearts as fresh and 
minds as vigorous as in the old days. Mrs. Metcalf, 
who had piloted the ship through more than half 
its voyage at that time, was there to meet the 
throng of women to whom she was the principal of 
the Seminary. 

And to welcome them all, Mrs. Wheaton, the 
girl of 1835, stood at her door, a noble and vener- 
able figure, with her beautiful, loving smile. To the 
younger women looking on it was an inspiring 
sight to see this gathering of the women of the 
elder day. It helped them to realize some of the 
rewards awaiting those who have fought a good 
fight from youth to age, and who have never for- 
gotten in any press of the battle to love one another. 

Mrs. Wheaton's entry in her diary for June 30, 
1885, concludes : " My heart was full of joy. It was 
a noble exhibition of talent and consecration by the 
former pupils. 

*' Anniversary 50th!!" 

At this time Mrs. Wheaton was already seventy- 
five years old, but full of vigor. Soon after that the 
years began to tell, though she grew old very gently. 
Up to fourscore she was an exception to the almost 
universal rule, for her "strength" had not become 
"labor and sorrow." After eighty she began to lay 
aside first one occupation and then another. 



On the return of Mrs. Wheaton's brother, General 
Samuel Austin Chapin, from California, in 1884, 
Mrs. Wheaton invited him and his wife to make 
their home permanently with her. One year later 
she writes in her diary: "One year this morning 
since Austin and Maria arrived from California. 
I have enjoyed much since they came. We have 
reason for gratitude for the health we four old 
people have enjoyed." 

But Mrs. Chapin soon became an invalid, a 
paralytic, and several changes in the house were 
made having special reference to her comfort. A 
nurse became a regular member of the household. 

Of the great circle of brothers and sisters, all so 
dear to each other, in which Mrs. Wheaton had 
grown up, few were now left. Her brother Adol- 
phus had died at the age of seventy-eight in 1875, 
and her sister Mary at the age of seventy-three in 
1876. Only Mr. Judson Chapin of West Roxbury 
and General Chapin now remained to her. 

Though General Chapin was now an old man 
himself, he was one of those men who never really 

[ 188] 

grow old, and he lightened Mrs. Wheaton's bur- 
dens in a thousand ways, not only by his geniality 
in the home, but by his interest in all the affairs of 
the town where his family had formerly resided, 
helping efficiently in the church, the public Hbrary, 
and among the poor. His interest in the Seminary 
was equally great. He was Secretary of the Board 
of Trustees. It was fitting that a new residence 
hall, built some years after his death, should, in 
honor of him, receive the name of Chapin Hall. 

In 1890 General Chapin paid a visit to California 
to join in the reunion of the original settlers of the 
State (called the "Forty-niners"), of whom he was 
one. The journey was fatiguing, and the excite- 
ment of meeting old friends was great. " The party 
was received at San Bernardino," says a news- 
paper clipping preserved by Mrs. Wheaton, "with 
enthusiastic demonstrations, and during the ova- 
tion, General Chapin, having made the most bril- 
liant speech of the evening, in leaning over to pick 
up a bouquet of flowers, as was supposed, fell to the 
floor insensible and died in less than half an hour." 
His last words were, "God bless the noble State 
and the dear people of California." 

He was a man who had made his mark wherever 
he had Hved. When a boy in White Pigeon, Mich., 
he had borne a vaHant part in the Black Hawk 
War with the Indians, and tradition says that his 

[ 189] 

tact and diplomacy in dealing with the chiefs, 
united with his decisive measures, did much to 
shorten the struggle. At all events, he " smoked the 
pipe of peace" with the chiefs "with dignity and 
goodwill." It was the only time in his life that he 
was known to smoke, and he remembered the 
"awful" strength of the long pipe till the day of his 
death, saying in his old age that he "could taste it 
yet." Furthermore, the title of Brigadier-General 
was conferred upon him for his services in this war. 
He was made one of the Trustees of the town of 
White Pigeon, and also sent to Detroit to represent 
that district in the legislature, being the youngest 
member of that body but one. For more than 
thirty years he gave his energies to San Francisco, 
helping to infuse many of the best New England 
ideas into the new city. As might be expected of a 
Chapin, he was one of the original members of the 
First Congregational Church in San Francisco, 
and one of its earliest deacons. Meantime, he had 
mining interests in what was then Utah Territory, 
and while a resident of Virginia City "was twice 
elected alderman and twice elected a member of 
the Constitutional Convention which resulted in 
the making of the State of Nevada." "Wherever 
he went," says a manuscript obituary in Mrs. 
Wheaton's own hand, "he found work to do to 
benefit mankind." 

[ 190 ] 


From a photograph 

After his death, the man of the family on whom 
Mrs. Wheaton most rehed was his only son and 
namesake, Mr. Samuel A. Chapin of New York. 
This favorite nephew took his father's place in her 
heart, and for years her house was the place of his 
home-coming. She was wonderfully cheered by 
his frequent visits and his tender affection, which 
filled the cup of her delights. 

Mrs. Wheaton felt the loss of General Chapin 
deeply. Her dearly loved brother Judson had died 
in 1887, so that she was now the last of her family. 
xA.nd she was eighty-one years old. 

There was now no strong, efficient person in her 
own home on whom she could lean, for Mrs. 
Beane was growing old as well as Mrs. Wheaton. 
Mrs. Wheaton still attended to all her business 
affairs, but two years later she found her burdens 
pressing so heavily upon her that she invited Miss 
Lucy D. Tozer, a lady living in Norton, who had 
been a Wheaton student, to become her private 
secretary. This most satisfactory arrangement 
continued till Mrs. Wheaton's death, thirteen years 
later. The affection between Mrs. Wheaton and 
Miss Tozer was very warm, and the relation became 
still closer after the death of the other members of 
the family, Mrs. Chapin dying in 1892, a few 
months after Miss Tozer became one of the house- 
hold, and Mrs. Beane in 1899. After Mrs. Beane's 

[ 191 ] 

death, a sister of Miss Tozer, Mrs. Mary E. 
Thurston, came to assist in the increasing cares of 
the home. 

Mrs. Smith writes : " The mercy of God for which 
Mrs. Wheaton always gave thanksgiving was cer- 
tainly shown when these two sisters were led to the 
doorway of this old home. No happier arrange- 
ment could be conceived. When the necessary time 
for adjustment had passed by, it came to this, that 
Miss Tozer's return was looked for as for that of 
a beloved daughter, that her presence meant joy 
and comfort, that, indeed, a love and devotion like 
that of a daughter was given back. To speak of 
the marvellous manner in which Mrs. Wheaton's 
former duties in business matters and her ways of 
conducting household affairs were taken up and 
carried on by this dear lady is impossible, for words 
cannot do it justice. Mrs. Thurston's kindly pre- 
sence increased this delight and comfort. Their 
nieces flitted back and forth in all their youth 
and joyousness, adding their part to this lovely 
old lady's sum of happiness.'* 

In November, 1892, Mrs. Wheaton arranged 
her affairs in such a way that her banking busi- 
ness could be transacted by Miss Tozer. Though 
she was still able to go to Boston sometimes, such 
an arrangement was necessary because of her in- 
creasing infirmities, for she was ill with rheuma- 

[ 192 ] 

tism all through the following winter. Gradu- 
ally, as her eyesight began to grow dim, she gave 
up writing her own letters, dictating to Miss 
Tozer instead, but to the last, every letter was a 
model of clear, concise statement of the matter in 

Happily there was never any trace of failure 
mentally in Mrs. Wheaton. She always conducted 
family prayers in the morning, and the members of 
the household noticed that she often used the 
expression, "I thank Thee for reason" speaking 
with great earnestness. 

Though she had now definitely recognized the 
presence of old age, and had reorganized her life 
accordingly, it must not be supposed that she had 
given up work. Her last years were as fruitful as 
any in her life. 

The routine was substantially the same from day 
to day. Breakfast was at seven in the summer, 
and at half-past seven in the winter. Then she 
went to her desk, and attended to business and her 
correspondence. The business of her life was 
chiefly the spending of her large income so that it 
might do the most good. Inside her cash-book she 
kept for many years a newspaper clipping, viz.: "I 
expect to pass this way but once; if, therefore, 
there be any kindness I can show, or any good 
thing I can do to my fellow human beings, let me 

[ 193 ] 

do it now, let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall 
not pass this way again." 

This motto, in illuminated text, is familiar as a 
Christmas card, and ornaments many writing- 
desks of those who may or may not be guided by 
it; but it was not for its outward beauty that Mrs. 
Wheaton fastened it to the fly-leaf of her cash-book. 
It expressed her purpose in her daily business. On 
the reverse of the slip were three extracts of poetry 
bearing similar sentiments: — 

I. The stanza beginning, — 

" I live for those who love me," 

and ending, — 

'and the good that I CAN DO." 

2. The stanza beginning, — 

"True worth is in being, not seeming;" 
and ending, — 

"There's nothing so kingly as kindness, 
And nothing so royal as truth." 

3. Another, beginning, — 

" Poor indeed thou must be, if around thee 
Thou no ray of light and joy canst throw." 

Mrs. Wheaton's mail was full of appeals for 
help. Miss Tozer says that she "almost always 
gave to those who asked, though not always as 

[ 194 ] 

much as was asked for." She was judicious and 
wished to help others to help themselves, not to 
help them to be idle or careless or extravagant. 
And she did not wait to be asked before giving. 
She made plans for the regular expenditure of 
much of her income. When she received her quar- 
terly dividends, after providing for the current 
expenses of the home, which were small for a 
woman who had so ample an income, she at once 
set aside a large sum for the Seminary. 

Though we have no complete record of these 
benefactions to the Seminary, we may get some 
idea of them from a Httle packet of papers contain- 
ing memoranda of a part of her gifts during the 
years 1890-1894, as follows: — 

Contributions to the library. 

The Seminary Woods. 

A brick cottage called the Retreat. 

Fire-extinguishers for all the buildings. 

A fire-proof vault. 

A windmill. 

An engine-house for the laundry. 

A check to the president of the New England 
Wheaton Club* to meet the expenses of the club's 

^ It should be said that at this time there were two flourish- 
ing clubs of Wheaton women, the New York Club, established 
in 1886 by Mrs. Kate Upson Clark, a graduate of 1869, who 

[ 195] 

Having arranged for her family and for the 
Seminary, Mrs. Wheaton next appropriated a sum 
for the various institutions to which she contributed 
annually, and for the private friends who without 
her would have been destitute. Then a large sum 
was laid aside to meet the constant unforeseen 
calls coming to her from every direction. These 
calls were not always calls from "others." If she 
heard of illness in a family where there was not 
much money, that, in itself, constituted a call upon 
her. She felt that it was her place to help those 
who could not help themselves. She never shirked 
a responsibihty. She was much too sagacious — 
shrewd, some would say — to fancy a responsibil- 
ity where it did not exist, and there were those who 
came to her with unwise or unreasonable petitions 
for help who went away empty-handed. But she 
took all real responsibility, and construed the word 
"responsibility" very generously. For instance, 

has been its president during most of its life, though now suc- 
ceeded by Mrs. Sarah Foster Greene, of the Class of 1885, and 
the New England Club, founded in 1889, largely through the 
influence of Mrs. Estelle M. Hatch Merrill, of the Class of 
1877, who was its first president, the office at present being held 
by Mrs. Anna Spear Stebbins. Lately, through the influence 
of Mrs. Ellen Grout Gould-Smith, a Worcester County Club 
has been formed, whose president is Mrs. Ellen Hill Fisher, 
Class of 1868. A fourth club has been established during the 
present year, the Connecticut Wheaton Club, President, Miss 
Belle J. Soudant of Collinsville, Conn. 

[ 196] 

an old friend of Mrs. Beane's daughters, through 
illness and insanity, became destitute. Mrs. Beane 
and her daughters were no longer living. Mrs. 
Wheaton heard of the destitution, and at once 
made arrangements for the lady to be well cared for 
in a hospital until her death, sending a personal 
representative to attend to the details of the 

She had a strong sense of individual responsi- 
bility. Though she was liberal to the societies she 
approved of, she did not act much through so- 
cieties. Therefore she had to bestow much time 
and thought on her gifts. 

When she had set aside an ample sum for all 
the purposes mentioned, the remainder of the 
dividend was then carefully invested, so well 
invested usually that of her five talents other five 
often became available for her increasing charities. 

Mrs. Wheaton was often asked for money loans. 
If she approved of the object for which the loan 
was needed, and if she had confidence in the char- 
acter of the borrower, she almost always granted 
the request. But she would seldom take a note in 
such a case from a private individual. "If you 
ever are able to pay me, do so," was her formula. 
"If you are never able to pay me, perhaps you can 
some time give the money to the Seminary." Of 
course, with such views of money-lending, she was 

[ 197 ] 

free from anxiety about securities or interest, and 
her unwillingness to lend on real estate is accounted 
for, as she would have objected to a mortgage, and 
especially to the foreclosure of a mortgage. She 
would sometimes take a note from the church. 
Of course, in any financial difficulty in the church, 
she was the main dependence, and though she 
always gave generously to its support, she would 
have felt it wrong to take the full responsibility of 
it from others. So when money had to be borrowed, 
she would receive a note; but if the pressure con- 
tinued, and she saw that it was bearing too heavily 
on those less able to meet it than herself, she would 
cancel the note. 

No one will ever know all Mrs. Wheaton gave 
away, for no one ever observed more perfectly the 
principle of not letting her left hand know what her 
right hand did. The letters that have been received 
from the townspeople and the Wheaton women in 
connection with the preparation of this biography 
have been a revelation even to those who had before 
realized that she was a very generous woman. One 
old gentleman, who remembers her from childhood, 
writes: "She was a person who wished to be 
economical but not stingy, and liked to see other 
people the same. She was a person who helped the 
poor, and it was known only by the one helped and 
herself. (No vain show for her.) When she did 

[ 198] 

people a favor, if they showed that they felt thank- 
ful for it she was satisfied. She did not want it 
known all over town." 

An old lady writes: "I am eighty years old and 
have always Hved in Norton, and have known 
Mrs. Wheaton from childhood up. She did so 
many good things I hardly know what to write. She 
was always good to the poor, and would send them 
money to help along." 

A teacher who had met with unavoidable mis- 
fortunes, speaks of "the sympathy, hospitality, 
and money that were never withheld." She says: 
"At a time of severe illness, she wrote my sisters, 
'Spare nothing for S.'s comfort, and send the bill 
to me.' And so it has always been. Anything that 
I could add would only be a repetition." 

One of the alumnae writes : " I had not seen Mrs. 
Wheaton for some years, and I had no reason to 
suppose that she knew I had special needs owing 
to illness in the family, when one day I was sur- 
prised by receiving a check for twenty-five dollars 
from her. Her interest in those she had once known 
was never lost, and she managed to keep herself 
acquainted with their wants when they least sus- 
pected it." 

A lady who had been a neighbor of Mrs. Whea- 
ton as a little child writes: "I was not brought 
in close contact with her after I grew up. But I 

[ 199 il 

know she was always kind and thoughtful of my 
mother, particularly when the boys were in school 
[and college]. More than once she helped sub- 
stantially in providing for their wants." Yet 
when she gave this help, many years had elapsed 
since the family had been her neighbors. Her con- 
struction of the word "neighbor" was a large 

Mrs. Wheaton had an old schoolmate who, like 
herself, lived to be very old, dying at the age of 
ninety-four. Having lost her children, it was due 
to Mrs. Wheaton that in her last years she was 
surrounded by the comforts and refinements 
required by one who had lived as a gentlewoman, 
including visits from time to time to the hospitable 
Wheaton Mansion. Happily, the old lady passed 
to another life a year before Mrs. Wheaton herself, 
so that she never had to miss the thoughtful and 
delicate kindness which had sustained her so long. 

One grateful recipient of Mrs. Wheaton's kind- 
ness writes to her: " But for you I should now have 
no sister." Another says that if she herself should 
ever be in a position to help others, "it shall be 
done for your sake and in your name." And her 
niece, Mrs. Smith, says: "Always she has shown 
the same kindness and generosity to her relatives^ a 
great many of them" as to others, "and they have 
always turned to her with the same free confidence. 

[ 200 ] 

It would be easy to multiply instances of her gen- 
erosity, but perhaps enough have been given. 

In a recent address to the New England Wheaton 
Club, Miss Frances Vose Emerson spoke of Mrs. 
Wheaton's manner of giving. She said: — 

"While she felt that the Seminary had the first 
claim on her purse, her charity did not end there. 
There were public benevolences and private bene- 
volences. All the great charities of the Congrega- 
tional churches and others were generously re- 
membered. Many a slender purse had a check 
dropped into it so quietly and so tactfully that the 
most sensitive feelings could not be hurt. I re- 
member once hearing Mrs. Beane say, incidentally, 
*You would be surprised to know for how many 
overcoats Mrs. Wheaton paid last Christmas.' 

"Second, Mrs. Wheaton's benevolence was 
unique in its modesty. Even the gifts to the Semi- 
nary, the scholarships, etc., were to be spoken of 
only as 'given by a friend of the Seminary.' And in 
the 'Receipts' of the missionary magazines you 
would read, 'E. B. W., Norton, i^iooo.oo.' 

"Third, she was remarkable in feeling so abso- 
lutely as she did that she was only the steward of 
her property. Others give lavishly, but they gen- 
erally live lavishly. Mrs. Wheaton's home was 
spacious, but very simple, and her manner of living, 
while she was supplied with every comfort, was 

[ 201 ] 

never luxurious. She seemed to feel that for her 
own use she was entitled only to the steward's 

Miss Mary E. Blair, in her paper read at the 
Wheaton Memorial meeting, emphasized this point. 
"I honored Mrs. Wheaton," she said, "for her 
high aims and the wisdom of her methods, and for 
the economy in personal expenditure which is the 
counterpart of bounteous giving.'* 

Mrs. Kate Upson Clark, writing of Mrs. Wheaton 
as "An embodiment of the Best New England 
ideals," says: — 

"One of the most interesting and instructive 
of occupations for the philosophically inclined is 
the study of wealth distribution. . . . Some one 
has said that the way in which a man, rich or poor, 
spends his money gives the truest index to his 

"To Mrs. Wheaton, there seems never to have 
been any question regarding the disposition of her 
property. As fortunes go in these days, it was not 
large. When she was in her prime, and in the place 
where she lived, it was immense. You or I might 
have thought of the many pleasures which we 
might, rightfully enough, have bought for ourselves 
with this money. She lived the simplest life pos- 
sible in her position, and seems never to have con- 
sidered for a moment that she could procure for 

[ 202 ] 

herself any luxuries with her ample income. Her 
fortune was a sacred trust, to be expended solely for 
the school and the town she loved, — and never 
was such a trust discharged with a more single- 
eyed devotion to duty. In all my intercourse with 
Mrs. Wheaton,! reaHzed this intensely. When the 
calm, self-contained, typical New England woman 
feels a great passion, she says little of it. No noisy 
ardor shows in her speech or manner. You know 
it is there only by the unbending, never-varying 
course of the life. . . , 

"Mrs. Wheaton longed from her early girlhood 
to do what she could to educate, refine, and uplift 
her sex. Wheaton Seminary was founded at her 
suggestion. It was the consistent purpose of her 
long life to make this Seminary strong and pure. 
It must turn out thorough scholars, but quite as 
surely, they must be Christian ladies. The pressure 
of her high and unchanging thought was felt by 
every teacher of the faculty. Through them it 
reached the girls. Even the densest must have 
responded to it. 

"As they went on in school life, and were per- 
mitted to touch the absolute personality of Mrs. 
Wheaton, it penetrated their very souls. When the 
senior class reached the capstone of its social 
privileges, that dainty and elegant tea-party which 
for many years Mrs. Wheaton gave to each class 

[ 203 ] 

in succession, the final stamp was set upon their 
souls. The deathless desire must have been born 
within each one of them then, if never before, to 
grow into just such an unselfish, home-loving and 
home-keeping, thoughtful, high-minded, ever-pro- 
gressive woman as Mrs. Wheaton evidently expected 
that she was going to be. 

"When a Wheaton woman won honors in teach- 
ing, in the missionary field (best-beloved of all), 
in literature, in art, or anywhere else, how she 
rejoiced! 'Remember, the honor of the Seminary 
rests with its alumnae,' she has said more than 
once, — and the thought of her disinterested 
ambition for every Wheaton woman has spurred 
many of them to undertake tasks for which the 
courage would otherwise have been lacking. Never 
have I seen any one who so perfectly as Mrs. 
Wheaton embodied the highest and noblest dis- 
tinctively New England traditions." 

Though Mrs. Wheaton was not a millionaire, yet, 
with her large income and her small personal ex- 
penditures for forty years after her husband's death, 
she might easily have died a millionaire; whereas, 
when the end came, it proved that the sum she 
had to dispose of in her own will was hardly more 
than double her annual income. The inference as 
to the sum of her gifts is really startling! 

[ 204 ] 

It will be seen that her morning hours were very 
full, for her gifts and loans were unnumbered, and 
every one received careful consideration. 

After the morning business was dispatched, she 
read the newspaper, and then went for a drive 
before dinner. It was a pleasant sight to see her 
driving about the village, always with a pair of fine, 
strong horses. She kept up the habit till within a 
fortnight of her death, though for some years pre- 
viously she had become so feeble that the coach- 
man needed help in putting her into her very easy 
carriage. Many of the schoolgirls would never have 
seen her at all but for these drives. Her carriage 
was one of the sights they liked to watch for. 

After the early dinner, Mrs. Wheaton and Mrs. 
Beane usually settled themselves for a while to 
backgammon, the one game they both enjoyed. 
About three o'clock, Mrs. Wheaton went to her own 
room to rest until tea-time. The evenings were 
spent either with visitors, among whom were usu- 
ally some of the Seminary teachers, or in the de- 
lightful old-fashioned recreation of reading aloud 
something that all the family enjoyed. 

Mrs. Wheaton's taste in books was dominated 
by the human interest, and led her to choose chiefly 
biography (especially the lives of people she had 
known something about personally), or travels, 
books of adventure, like Nansen's "Farthest 

[ 205 ] 

North," for instance, or stories. She had genuine 
enjoyment in a sweet, good, wholesome story, and 
read the best of current fiction, though she did not 
show much interest in psychological novels. One 
of her great pleasures was buying a collection of 
new books for reading in the summer at the Shoals. 

Probably most of her acquaintances will be 
somewhat surprised to know that Frank Stockton 
was a favorite with her, for she has not usually 
received quite the credit she deserved for a sense of 

Mrs. Wheaton's day terminated with a personal 
tour of the house to see that every window was 
fastened, or, if one must be left open, that it should 
not be so beyond a definite point. This practice 
she continued as long as her strength allowed. 

There was little variation in the daily routine 
we have traced for many of Mrs. Wheaton's later 
years. The spirit of her home could hardly be 
better illustrated than by some extracts from a 
letter of one who served in her household for the 
last fourteen years of Mrs. Wheaton's life. 

"My remembrances of her are all pleasant. 
When she first came to Norton, I was a child too 
young to know about her. I have heard old people 
in town, who have long since passed on, say that 
when she came to town she had great beauty, and 
was a lady. I was sometimes asked, when Miss 

[ 206 ] 

Tozer was called away, to go and sit with Mrs. 
Wheaton for an hour. I remember at one time, 
as we sat talking of many things in connection 
with the town, she said this: 'When I first came 
to Norton, as we drew near my future home, 
I thought, "Why did Mr. Wheaton build a house 
in such a place as this.^" It was nothing but a 
swamp. . . . But now I like to sit at my win- 
dow, and see what has been done for the public 
good.' . . . She was a very good old lady and made 
every one who came into her presence happy, and 
was always doing something to make her house- 
hold comfortable. I shall ever think of my stay in 
Mrs. Wheaton's house as of a pleasant spot in 

Can we realize what Norton must have been 
when the Wheaton Mansion was surrounded by a 
swamp instead of its gardens, when not one of the 
group of Seminary buildings had even been thought 
of, when the noble trees that shade its spacious 
grounds had not been planted, when the pretty 
little church, dear to the Wheatons, was unbuilt, 
when there was no public library and no high 
school in the village .? Yet this was the Norton that 
Mrs. Wheaton saw when she was a bride of twenty. 
That she looked out at ninety on a scene so full of 
beautiful refined life was very largely due to her 
own unselfish activity through all those many years. 

[ 207 ] 

The modest young girl perhaps felt some awe of the 
rich and distinguished father-in-law to whom she 

was presented in 1829, Y^^ ^^ ^^^ ^"^ ^° ^^^ ^^" 
suggestion that his name has been carried all over 

the world! 

Mrs. Smith writes: "These vivid interests, these 
wide outlooks, made her young. In the spring of 
1889, my husband and I made her a long and de- 
lightful visit. It seemed to us both that we had 
never seen anything so beautiful and wonderful. 
She was almost eighty, yet she was like a young 
girl. That eager interest in the welfare of all about 
her, that activity as of the prime of life, the elastic 
step as that of youth, the upright form and expres- 
sive countenance, full of goodness and beauty, — 
so long as I can remember anything I shall remem- 
ber these, and the dear gracious, pervading pre- 
sence that seemed to make the very house alive, the 
walls to speak of her, so that even after her death 
one could almost feel the spirit within the rooms. 

"Thirteen years later we were there again, but 
there was a change. There was a little, delicate old 
lady, so frail that it seemed a light wind might 
blow her away. The beauty of the loving spirit was 
still there, but the energy and vitality were gone. 
Slowly and gently like a snow wreath she was 
fading away." 



The two friends, outside her own family, who 
stood nearest to Mrs. Wheaton in her old age were 
Miss Stanton and Miss Pike. These friends visited 
her almost every day, and told her all the little news 
of the Seminary. Miss Stanton says that Mrs. 
Wheaton showed remarkable delicacy in these 
interviews. She never quizzed, though she was 
interested in every detail. She was careful never 
to interfere in any way whatever with the manage- 
ment of the school. When a principal had once 
been appointed, she felt that that principal was 
always to be sustained. She wished the principal 
to take the full responsibiHty belonging to her, and 
the trustees to take the full responsibility belonging 
to them. It is true she watched them with a keen 
eye, yet she never interfered. She would not, for 
example, give Miss Stanton any advice on the sub- 
ject of making women members of the Board of 
Trustees. Even when she was planning some large 
benefaction to the school, she was careful not to 
dictate in any way how it should be used. "/ 

[ 209 ] 

should like to do so and so, if it is agreeable," was 
her usual formula when she proposed to introduce 
modern heating or lighting apparatus, or to add to 
the library or art department, or to buy a telescope, 
or to furnish the laboratory with compound micro- 
scopes. She never wished Miss Stanton to say to 
the trustees, "Mrs. Wheaton would Hke," etc. 
Both her great reserve and her dignity of character 
are shown by the fact that she never said anything 
to Miss Stanton in these intimate daily conferences 
about the Seminary that she would not have said 
before the whole Board of Trustees. 

It was a heavy trial to Mrs. Wheaton when Miss 
Stanton decided, in 1897, to retire from teaching. 
Mrs. Wheaton was then eighty-eight years old, and 
she had hoped to have Miss Stanton by her side to 
the end. After that she yielded more and more to 
old age. 

At the Memorial meeting of the New England 
Wheaton Club, in 1906, Miss Stanton read a paper 
of reminiscences, which is here given in full with 
the exception of a few introductory words of greet- 
ing to her own old pupils. 


Those were very happy years, and they have left 
many "beautiful pictures hanging on memory's 
wall." Standing out in relief are my pleasant rela- 

[ 210 ] 

tions with Mrs. Wheaton, whose friendship I highly 
prized. It was her pleasure to listen to, and mine to 
relate to her, the little daily happenings in the home 
life at the Seminary. Seldom a day passed that 
I did not visit her; and many a time, as I entered 
the box-bordered walk that led to her front door, 
has that door opened before I reached it, and there 
would Mrs. Wheaton be standing with her smiling 
welcome. She never tired of hearing about the 
Seminary, or of talking over plans for its welfare, 
for it was the centre of her most cherished hopes — 
it was her idol, if so good a woman could have 
an idol: at least, it was her child, the Minerva that 
sprang from her active brain, and it was very dear 
to her heart. 

Mrs. Wheaton's was a symmetrically developed 
and therefore a well-balanced character, with that 
calm and serene temper that naturally resulted 
from it. I never heard her speak a fretful word. 
Her ideas were clearly cut and concisely expressed. 
I remember accompanying her once on a business 
and shopping tour when she was over eighty. She 
visited banks and brokers' offices, where she seemed 
as much at ease as in her own parlor. Her business 
was promptly and definitely stated, and no one's 
precious time was wasted. She was always treated 
with respectful deference. In shopping she knew 
exactly what she wanted, and concisely informed 


the salesman in attendance. If the article was not 
to be found in his department, and he attempted 
to bring something else to her notice, as in his 
opinion more desirable, she wasted no words, but 
with a dignified and courteous bow left him with 
his unaccepted remark on his hands. 

If one may speak of "salient points" in a sym- 
metrical character, I should say that system, order, 
and promptness were prominent. If she had an 
appointment with any one, she was sure to be on 
the spot at least ten minutes, if not half an hour 
before the time, and as long as she was able to 
attend public worship, she was one of the first to 
enter the church on a Sunday morning. 

As she advanced in years, social functions be- 
came burdensome to her. The last time I remem- 
ber her being present on such an occasion was at 
the celebration of her eightieth birthday in the 
Seminary drawing-room. The 27th of September 
has ever since been observed as a holiday by the 
school. The drawing-room presented a gay ap- 
pearance in its brilliant decorations of autumn 
leaves. Mrs. Wheaton received the pupils as she 
sat in a large easy chair, and, as one by one they 
were presented to her, each laid a beautiful rose 
on the table beside her. It was a pretty picture — 
the woman of fourscore with her smiling face, 
surrounded by the young girls and the roses. 

[ 212 ] 

For many years, Mrs. Wheaton spent her sum- 
mers at the Isles of Shoals. I remember one winter 
and spring she had not been as well as usual, and 
as the time drew near for her to leave home, she 
decided that she was too feeble to bear the fatigue 
of the long journey. Her friends felt a little anxious, 
as the air at the Shoals had been especially invigo- 
rating to her, and had generally acted as a tonic 
for the rest of the year. As the season advanced, 
she was induced to reconsider her decision. It 
was a hot, sultry day in July when she started in a 
wheel chair for the Norton station. She rested a 
few hours in Boston before taking the train for 
Portsmouth. She was greatly fatigued on her ar- 
rival there, but the boat-ride of an hour to the 
Islands seemed to revive her. A wheel chair 
awaited her at the wharf, and she was then taken 
over the bridge up the long walk, bordered on 
either side by scarlet poppies, to the hotel, where 
strong arms carried her up the long flight of stairs 
to her room. The windows were wide open, and 
she seated herself in a big rocking-chair to inhale 
the cool sea breezes. Presently she exclaimed, " Is 
not this air perfectly delicious! " From this time 
forth, her improvement was rapid. Her supper 
and breakfast were sent up to her room, but after 
this she was able, and preferred, to take her 
meals in the dining-hall; and in less than a 

[ 213 ] 

week she walked down to the wharf and back 

Her life during those happy summers was as 
systematic and orderly as it was in her Norton 
home, and one day was nearly the facsimile of the 
others. Breakfast between eight and nine — a 
stroll upon the piazza where, seated in a rocking- 
chair, she would watch the incoming boat that 
brought the morning's mail. She would then re- 
tire to her room, where she busied herself in read- 
ing, writing, or dictating letters — for she had a 
large correspondence. At eleven o'clock she ap- 
peared ready for a climb over the rocks, equipped 
in cloak, hat, and gloves,^ with an umbrella in her 
hand, a shawl over her arm, and with the last copy 
of the "Outlook" or "Congregationalist" for 

Her favorite walk was along the piazza, and up 
a footpath to the little stone church — down to 
the turnstile into a rocky field, dotted here and 
there with pimpernel, where the song sparrow's 
note was as much clearer as the poppies were 
brighter than on the mainland. Then came a rise 
in the ground to Captain John Smith's monu- 

' Mrs. Wheaton always wore gloves when going out, even at 
the Shoals, and she preferred to have others do the same. She 
was conventional in her habits, and never allowed any familiari- 


ment — then over the rocks — past the little bury- 
ing-ground, up, up, to a fissure in the rocks, which 
formed a comfortable seat high above "Miss 
Underbill's Chair," and which she was pleased to 
call "The Reading Rock." Here she spread her 
shawl, opened her umbrella, which had served her 
as a cane, and seated herself to enjoy the splendid 
view of the ocean, and listen to the reading. 

She liked to return to her room in season for 
a little rest before dinner, and the signal for de- 
parture was a little speck far out on the horizon 
which announced the approach of the noon boat. 
Dinner at one, after which she stopped at the office 
to receive her mail, 

I remember one day, as she slowly climbed the 
long flight of stairs leading to her room, she paused 
to rest on the first landing near the top, and re- 
marked: "There is one disease for which there is 
no cure — old age." 

Again in her room, she listened to the reading of 
the daily news from the "Advertiser," and she 
was always particularly interested in the fluctua- 
tion of stocks. Then, perhaps, a little more reading 
from some interesting book she would have at 
hand. Then she was ready for two or three games 
of backgammon. These she conducted in the same 
orderly and systematic way that characterized 
everything she did. Never a picket did she send 


out to capture some venturesome enemy, but she 
marched her men in solid lines round the board, 
only disturbing the enemy when he was an ob- 
stacle to her onward progress. I think she always 
liked her partner to conduct her campaign in the 
same way. 

Then she retired for a long afternoon rest and 
nap. At five she dressed for supper. Her toilet was 
always immaculate, and she looked much refreshed. 
There was usually a pink flush on her cheeks which 
might have been coveted by a young girl. After 
supper, she went to her favorite corner in the long 
parlor, where she received her friends and acquaint- 
ances who came to inquire for her health. At eight 
she returned to her room, and soon after retired 
for the night. 

Occasionally, this daily routine was varied by 
a trip in the little steamer Pinafore, that plied 
between "Star" and "Appledore" every half hour, 
and twice a day made the entire tour of the islands. 
Or, in the evening, she would attend some lecture, 
reading, or other entertainment in the Music Hall. 

Mrs. Wheaton was a quick and keen observer of 
the little details of life around her; nothing escaped 
her notice. 

Mrs. Charles has said: "One never sees what 
Time is doing — only what he has done." But 
here at the Shoals we could see what Time was 


doing for Mrs. Wheaton. From year to year he 
shortened her walks — from the "Reading Rock" 
to Captain John Smith's Monument, and then to 
the rocky field — to the turnstile and the little stone 
church — to the end of the piazza, until they 
ceased altogether. There was a pathos in her in- 
quiry whether any one had been to the "Reading 
Rock" that day. For she always advised others 
to visit it when she could no longer go there her- 

When the summer was over, one could be quite 
sure she would leave for home a day or two sooner 
than the date decided upon. 

But time is passing, and I must not linger in 
these reminiscences. I will speak of but one other, 
"The Fagot Party." In one of my calls I inci- 
dentally mentioned that the Class of '91 was to 
give a Fagot Party. Mrs. Wheaton inquired what 
that might be. It was explained that we were 
to have a fire in the drawing-room, and each 
young lady who took part was to lay a fagot on 
the fire, and while it was burning, she was to 
entertain the assembled company with music, reci- 
tation, reading, or in whatever way she chose. 
Mrs. Wheaton immediately said, "I will supply 
the fagots — I am having some old apple trees cut 
down that were planted when I first came here — 
they are dead now. Would it not be a good idea 

[ 217 ] 

for one of the girls, while her fagot is burning, 
to give a little sketch relating to the Seminary?" 
A few days after, when I called, she handed me 
this manuscript — composed by herself, and writ- 
ten by her own hand, in her eighty-second year, for 
this Fagot Party: — 


In the autumn of 1828, — sixty-two years ago, 
— when young Mr. Wheaton was laying the foun- 
dation for what is now called the "Wheaton Man- 
sion," I was brought from Cumberland, R. L, on 
a load of fruit trees, — apple, pear, peach, and 
quince. As the trees were unloaded, it seemed to 
be a matter of some importance where I should be 
placed, and my near companions. I was labelled 
" Early Sweet," and the one next me "Maiden 
Blush." It was decided we should be within sight 
of the house. An orchard in those days was es- 
sential to good living, for there were no fruit carts. 
The early and later fruits, with the sweet cider in 
the casks and nice straws for the young people to 
use in drinking the juice, together with the making 
of a winter's store of apple-sauce in a brass kettle 
hung on a crane in a large open fireplace, — all 
had an interest in the family where there was a fine 

It took a few years for us to amount to much in 


theway of shade or fruitage. In theautumnof 1834, 
our master and mistress seemed very busy in out- 
side matters, and the following spring found young 
maidens visiting the grounds. It was the opening 
of Wheaton Seminary. Our two trees seemed to 
be those of special attraction to the young people 
for the fruit we bore. But after a lapse of years we 
were sought for the shade we gave, and a seat was 
placed under our boughs, and many were the chats 
held there, mostly by the young maidens, but also 
by some grave teachers; and I can recall even ex-' 
Principals, who were having overtures to leave the 
halls of Wheaton and go with the suitor to make 
a home with him either in New England or in for- 
eign lands, — and after a time these ladies ceased 
to come to our shades. They had been captured, 
and taken away. 

But new attractions were presented, and, di- 
rectly, about us was made a croquet ground, and 
many a group of youth resorted there for games. 
When weary of play, they would come to the seat 
and chat, as young girls do. After a time the play- 
ground seemed deserted for some new play, and 
we were left more to ourselves, and a conviction 
crept over us that we were not so attractive as in 
former years. Even our mistress would come and 
look at us with an anxious eye. We knew there 
was invisible trouble, but we could not tell her 

[ 219 ] 

what it was. She ordered one thing and then an- 
other, but all failed to arrest decay. The borers 
were doing their deadly work, and so we became 
unsightly and unfruitful, and our mistress gave the 
order for our removal. And we have just been 
uprooted, — but she has given us the promise that 
we shall be cremated, and that the Class of '91 shall 
be requested to sprinkle our ashes about the apple 
trees on "Observatory Walk," that we may still 
live to cheer the Wheaton girls. 



During the last decade of the nineteenth century, 
great changes were taking place in the education 
of girls all over the world, which had to be reck- 
oned with by every school in the land. The half- 
dozen years following 1894, when the Harvard 
Annex became RadclifFe College, and the Presi- 
dent of Harvard University first signed the diplo- 
mas of its graduates, were probably the most 
strenuous years ever known in the history of every 
high-class school for girls in the United States. 
Every teacher in those schools at that time will 
acknowledge this, but the general public knew 
little about what was going on. A short explana- 
tion of the causes and effects of this crisis may 
not be out of place here. 

Though admirably equipped colleges for wo- 
men had already existed for more than thirty years, 
yet there had been a lurking doubt in most minds 
as to whether they really stood for a culture com- 
parable to that of colleges for men. The girls who 
had hitherto been attracted to colleges were a picked 
class in a different sense from that in which college 

[ 221 ] 

boys are a picked class, — they were highly intel- 
lectual girls. The colleges had already had a very 
appreciable effect on high-class boarding-schools, 
for the daughters of the mothers who in the middle 
of the nineteenth century had thronged these board- 
ing-schools were often exactly those who grasped 
most eagerly the new opportunities for college 
training. High schools had sprung up everywhere 
in which preparation for college could be made 
without leaving home, and the very culture the 
mothers themselves had gained at the boarding- 
schools had so refined the home life all over the 
country that one of the strong incentives to send 
the daughters to the same boarding-schools had 
been lost. Still, a college course for girls had by no 
means become the fashion, even in the case of 
highly endowed girls. It was questioned whether 
it left them quite as feminine as they ought to be, 
and in the same breath we were told that, after all, 
the college courses open to girls were only femi- 
nine reflections of masculine realities. 

But when President Eliot countersigned the first 
Radcliffe diploma, all this was changed in the 
twinkling of an eye. The world at large did not 
observe the change, but every high-class girls' 
school in the country felt the shock within a year, 
though probably not all noticed the connection 
between the action at Harvard and the subsequent 

[ 222 ] 

ferment. The actual culture within the reach of 
girls was perhaps not greatly increased by the new 
arrangement, yet, when Harvard set its seal on 
that culture, it seemed to most people as if the goal 
had been reached at last, and that girls were no 
longer shut out from the highest education in the 
land. Then it became the fashion for girls to go 
to college. 

It was not to Radcliffe alone, or chiefly, that 
the girls turned their faces, but to every other 
college in the land whose doors were open to 
women. All the girls whose brothers went to col- 
lege began to demand a college course for them- 
selves, whether they had any special love for study 
or not. 

Up to this time, very few of the best girls' schools 
had given much attention to the technicalities of 
college preparation. The girls who went to col- 
lege usually fitted either in the large high schools, 
or in some specialized fitting-school situated in a 
college town. Occasionally, some gifted girl went 
from a seminary to college, but such a girl usually 
took the matter of fitting herself largely into her 
own hands, and entered college in triumph. 

Now, suddenly, all these schools were asked to 
fit girls for Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Radcliffe, 
etc., and they found they had no equipment for 
the purpose. To the uninitiated, it seemed as 

[ 223 ] 

though nothing was needed but to add a chair of 
Greek. But this was soon seen to be quite inade- 
quate. That a girl was a good Latin scholar, or an 
exceptional mathematician, was no guarantee that 
she would pass her college examinations, if she 
had not been previously drilled on the examination 
papers of the particular college to which she was 
to be sent. A girl who had learned French in Paris 
would sometimes pass her "Advanced French" 
paper, and fail in "Preliminary French." A girl 
who had lived in a library, and who had heard 
nothing but the best of EngHsh all her life, would 
be conditioned in English in her entrance examina- 
tions, and maintain an A standing all through her 
subsequent course. Of a class of equally thorough 
students in Algebra, all the Radcliffe candidates 
would pass triumphantly, and all the Bryn Mawr 
candidates would fail ignominiously, or vice versa, 
according to the special text-book used, for this 
was before the present plan of intercollegiate coop- 
eration was worked out. 

The fathers and mothers of the brilliant girls 
that failed naturally felt that the school they had 
hitherto upheld was a superficial institution, and 
the teachers were full of consternation. No leading 
school could venture to say, " We do not fit for col- 
lege," because that was sure to be interpreted as 
a confession of inferiority. On the other hand, to 

[ 224 ] 

rearrange a school so that it could guarantee its 
pupils entrance to all the colleges, meant a com- 
plete readjustment not only of all its methods, but 
of some of its aims. For whatever may be the 
opinion of the laity, it is not true that the education 
that leads up to successful entrance examinations 
is the best possible education. Thousands of teach- 
ers have had occasion to echo the words of the dis- 
tinguished head of a great fitting-school for boys: 
" I am not educating my boys. I am preparing them 
for college." 

Nevertheless, after 1894, few girls' schools could 
even maintain their existence without a college 
preparatory department. In all the best girls' 
schools, when the crisis came, there was a strong 
feeling that while there was reason for rejoicing in 
the fact that the girls were going to college, yet, 
in order to fit them to go there, much of the best 
work of the school would have to be sacrificed to 
mere drill. The teachers said little about it, and 
set themselves heroically to adapt themselves to 
the new conditions, but their hearts sank within 

At this juncture many schools failed altogether, 
others became mere fitting-schools. Some intro- 
duced a college preparatory department for the 
few, and supplemented it by showy and superficial 
finishing courses for the many. But none of these 

[ 225 ] 

plans could be even considered for a school of the 
grade of Wheaton Seminary, which was one of 
the small group of schools for girls that had been 
the distinct forerunner of the colleges, a seminary 
where for many years courses in literature, the lan- 
guages, history, mathematics, chemistry, botany, 
biology, geology, astronomy, art, and music, on a 
level with many college courses in those same sub- 
jects, had been maintained. 

To Mrs. Wheaton, in her extreme age, it was a 
very bitter suggestion that great changes must be 
made in the Seminary merely that its pupils might 
be fitted to go elsewhere, w^hen the aim of the 
school had always been to give the most thorough 
and complete fitting for life, and no pains or ex- 
pense had been spared to keep it in touth with 
modern progress. Yet the sacrifice had to be made, 
and few incidents in Mrs. Wheaton's life show her 
largeness of mind so well as her way of meeting 
this problem. 

One solution of it proposed was that Wheaton 
Seminary should be transformed into a small col- 
lege. But, with the splendidly endowed colleges 
for women already established in New England, 
there seemed less need of a small college than of 
a school on the lines along which Wheaton has 
always progressed, a school where there should be 
an opportunity for quite young girls to be placed, 

[ 226 ] 

at the most impressionable age, under the personal 
care of wise and cultivated women, whose interest in 
the development of a noble and beautiful character 
and sweet and gracious manners is as great as in 
scientific research or literary art, but where all the 
culture should be sound, and where a much 
broader and deeper intellectual education should 
be given than that furnished by even the best high 
schools. Many girls need such a school as this 
whether they finally go to college or not; but a 
dozen years ago, it looked as if the colleges and 
high schools together would crowd out all the 
boarding-schools, — not only those that were super- 
ficial, but the best ones, — with the fine, careful 
training which was given silently in their home 
life by a class of women who have had few equals 
in character or in mental power. 

It seemed to the guardians of Wheaton Seminary, 
at this period, that even if that institution were 
to become a college in the end, the change should 
be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, that the 
wisest course was to enlarge and strengthen the 
foundations, and as one story after another was 
added to the structure, to see that each was sol- 
idly built. 

To save the old ideals, while reaching out 
towards the new ones, made such a demand for 
expansion upon the school that large sums of 

[ 227 ] 

money were immediately needed. Though the 
number of pupils was ebbing in every seminary 
in the land, it was everywhere necessary to increase 
largely the staff of teachers because so many 
parallel courses of study must be provided, all re- 
quiring highly-trained instructors. Under the 
strain, many a modest but excellent school went to 
pieces, and Wheaton Seminary itself, with all its 
long and honorable history, felt the danger. If 
Mrs. Wheaton had regarded herself as too old or 
feeble to look the matter fairly in the face, it is not 
unlikely that the school must have deteriorated 

Mrs. Wheaton had silently felt the danger for 
ten years before it became acute. In the eighties, 
she had talked of it with some of her relatives, 
realizing that the demands made upon her own 
private purse might be so great that she would 
have little left to give to the friends most dear to 
her of that large property which her own ability as a 
financier and her personal economies had been the 
means of accumulating, and which was distinctly 
her own, aside from her inheritance from the 
Wheatons. But she felt that she was holding all her 
property in trust. Then she not only felt that it 
was her place to see that the beneficent influence 
of the Seminary was not curtailed in any way, but 
" she felt the piteousness of the fact that the Semi- 


nary was the only living child of Judge Wheaton's 
branch of the Wheaton family." (Mrs. Smith's 

She was almost ninety years old when the crisis 
came at last. At a time when she was ready to say 
her "Nunc dimittis," feeling that her work in life 
was done, — and we know how well it had been 
done, — the immediate danger to the school was 
suddenly brought home to her. It was one of the 
bitterest hours of her life. But she did not flinch 
from her new and difficult task. She sacrificed at 
once almost half of her private property to put the 
Seminary on a surer footing. As to the internal 
management of the school, we know that she had 
never interfered, but she entered into all the new 
plans of the trustees and faculty with the greatest 
interest. Mr. Edwin Barrows of Providence, who 
has served on the Board of Trustees of Wheaton 
Seminary longer than any other member, writes of 
this time, after mentioning Mrs. Wheaton's "wis- 
dom, prudence, generosity, and unusual business 
capacity," as follows: "A signal example of her 
courage and wise foresight was given in 1897. 
When the trustees of Wheaton Seminary were 
searching for a competent lady to place at the head 
of our school as principal, Mrs. Wheaton came to 
our assistance with the suggestion that we select a 
man for the place, and more than that, she named 

[ 229 ] 

the person she thought best fitted to be our leader. 
The trustees adopted her plan, and Rev. Samuel 
V. Cole, D. D., was elected President of the Semi- 
nary. His administration, during the ten years he 
has been our leader, has abundantly demonstrated 
the wisdom of the choice." 

Dr. Cole had been previously settled in Taunton, 
Mass., and was already a member of the Board of 


In view of the freedom of life for women opening 
at this time throughout the world, bringing them 
into contact with men in entirely new directions, 
it was thought well during the nineties to accord 
women a place among the trustees, by electing to 
the Board two of the alumnae who had been success- 
ful teachers in this school and elsewhere: Mrs. 
Annes A. Lincoln (Jeannie E. Woodbury) of Wol- 
laston (Class of 1866), and Miss Annie M. Kilham 
of Beverly (Class of 1870). Recently a third 
woman has been added to the Board, the well- 
known author and lecturer, Mrs. Kate Upson 
Clark of New York (Class of 1869). 

The curriculum was much enlarged about this 
time. Not only was a college preparatory depart- 
ment added, but entrance to the four years' Semi- 
nary course was now based upon two years of work, 
corresponding to that done in the first two years in 
the high school, thus making the full course one of 

[ 230 ] 

six years, and carrying the pupils fully two years 
beyond the boundaries of a high-school course, 
while a large number of elective alternates was 
offered. Six years of Latin, five of French, five of 
German, and three of Greek were given in contrast 
to the meagre course of Latin and French of the 
early days. Five years of mathematics, not includ- 
ing arithmetic, had now taken the place of arith- 
metic and Euclid, which was the limit of mathe- 
matics in Miss Lyon's prospectus. Six years of 
natural science, five of history, and three of psy- 
chology, etc., were arranged for. Six courses of 
literature and seven of Bible study were offered, 
while the high standards already prevailing in 
music and art were sustained. 

With the money so generously furnished by 
Mrs. Wheaton, several new buildings were at once 
erected, Chapin Hall, dedicated March 7, 1901, 
is a residence hall with modern equipments. The 
boarding-houses of seventy years ago were as 
attractive as the homes of many of the girls who 
were then pupils, but constant improvements have 
been necessary to adapt them to the wants of the 
girls brought up in twentieth-century homes. 

A large and perfectly equipped gymnasium was 
added in 1903, the architect's plans being super- 
vised by Dr. D. A. Sargent of Harvard, who made 
suggestions in regard to it, and gave the address 

[ 231 ] 

at the formal opening of the building. The gym- 
nasium not only contains a clear floor space of 
42 X 80 feet, but a stage with dressing-rooms, a 
dozen piano practice rooms with deadened walls, 
a running-track, a promenade, a fencing-room, a 
swimming-tank, etc. 

Both these buildings are in Colonial style, of 
red brick, with trimmings of white marble. They 
form part of "a comprehensive plan for future de- 
velopment," contemplating "the erection of a num- 
ber of buildings for the various purposes of the 
school around a central 'Court of Honor.'" (Whea- 
ton Seminary Circular, 1907.) In 1905, a power- 
house and laundry of red brick was erected, from 
which heat and light are distributed to all the 
buildings. A new dining-hall is now in process of 
building, and will probably be completed by Jan- 
uary I, 1908, while it is expected that another 
dormitory will be added the following year, the 
present accommodations being far too limited, in 
view of the number of applications for admission 
to the school. 

These additional buildings will make the number 
belonging to the Seminary group thirteen^ in place 
of the one modest schoolhouse in which Miss 
Caldwell began her work. The bare grounds of 
the early days have expanded into beautiful lawns, 
shaded by noble elms, and leading through pleas- 

[ 232 ] 

^nt fields to the lovely Seminary woods. The 
grounds are supplied with tennis courts, basket- 
ball standards, and other equipments for out-of- 
door sports, the hockey field being one of the finest 
in the country. Great pains are taken to foster the 
physical development of the students. 

Under Dr. Cole's able management the school 
has prospered abundantly, both as to numbers 
and efficiency, and it is now one of the best- 
equipped as well as one of the best-endowed girls' 
schools in the country. Its intellectual standards 
are so high that it is often said that it is more like 
a college than most schools that are not colleges. 
The average age of the girls is constantly increas- 
ing, the advanced classes attracting more pupils 
than the lower ones, in which the work is equiva- 
lent to that of the high schools. This is one of the 
causes that makes it possible to give the students 
more freedom than would have been wise when the 
number of very young girls in the school was 
larger. In this respect, too, the Seminary resembles 
a college. 

It is gratifying to know that the crisis in the life 
of Wheaton Seminary was safely passed, and that 
it was placed on a secure foundation while Mrs. 
Wheaton was still living to see the result of her 
generosity and her sacrifices. In this one school 
have been reflected all the varying phases of that 

[ 233 ] 

great movement for the higher education of wo- 
men which is one of the finest fruits of the nine- 
teenth century. Beginning in the United States, 
in the estabhshment of endowed schools for girls 
about the time Wheaton was founded, it may be 
considered to have terminated in this country 
when the best universities had thrown open their 
doors to women. 

In all the changes in schools for girls during 
this period, Mrs. Wheaton has taken a worthy 
part, standing always ready to further every 
change that would develop the mind, and espe- 
cially the character of the girls, at whatever cost 
to herself. 

This educational movement has spread into 
the most conservative countries in Europe, and 
is now taking such shape in Asia that, to many, 
the dawn of a new day in the Orient seems at 
hand. Wheaton girls who have gone as mission- 
aries to Turkey, China, Persia, and India have 
borne a noble part in this work. 

To this great movement, from beginning to 
end, Mrs. Wheaton's secluded Hfe belongs. 

In China, the Hartwells, mother and daughter, both alumnae 
of Wheaton, have carried on a noble missionary work for many 
years. In India, Mary Sanford (Class of 1865) is the wife of 
Rev. Richard Winsor, on whom King Edward conferred one 
of the rarest orders in his gift for transforming one of the 
famine districts of the country into a garden that supports 

[ 234 ] 

thousands of natives, by the introduction of new plants suited 
to the conditions of the region, and she herself carried out a 
shipload of supplies from America to the sufferers during one 
of the great famines that occurred some years ago. Similar 
stories might be told of many other missionaries. — Ed. 


Mrs. Wheaton not only loved the Seminary girls, 
but she loved them as individuals, though this was 
perhaps not generally understood by the later 
generations of girls; she was so upright, so dig- 
nified, and so reserved that most of the girls stood 
in awe of her. Some of them never spoke to her 
all through their course at the Seminary till the 
final Senior Tea-party. And they often went to 
this party in some trepidation, fearing they might 
spill something on the tablecloth, or say some- 
thing silly. 

Mrs. Wheaton received them very sweetly, and 
they felt that. And they enjoyed the stroll through 
the garden, and the beautiful flowers she always 
gave them; but, probably, most of them would have 
been astonished to know how tenderly and affec- 
tionately she thought of each one of them. And 
yet, years afterwards, when they might have 
thought she had had time to forget all about them, 
in some crisis of their lives, help would suddenly 
come from her, effectual help, and as a complete 


surprise. Then they began to understand her real 

Miss Susan Hayes Ward writes on this subject: 
"My most vivid impression of [Mrs. Wheaton] 
was of the tenacious memory which kept in mind 
old scholars whom she had not seen for nearly 
fifty years. I asked her of this or that girl, and she 
would say: 'Wait a minute,' or *Let me think 
a moment,' and then, after a short pause, she 
would tell me one and another matter of inter- 
est concerning the person in question. . . . How 
steady and strong her interest was in everything and 
every individual connected with the Seminary!" 

Miss Frances Vose Emerson says: "I used often 
to be surprised when I went back [to Norton] to 
find her inquiring for girls whom I supposed she 
did not know at all." 

Perhaps the girls felt her love, though they were 
not always conscious of it, for even the most timid 
among them rfemember the June tea-party as 
something exquisite and poetical. 

The last of these parties was given in 1898. Mrs. 
Wheaton had now become so frail that the occa- 
sion was a great tax upon her. Still she was un- 
willing to give up the custom. The effort proved 
too much for her, however. Miss Pike, coming in 
the next morning to inquire for her health, found 
her so exhausted as to be really ill. Realizing Mrs. 

[ 237 ] 

Wheaton's age as she had never done before, Miss 
Pike threw her arms around her old friend, and 
exclaimed, "Oh, what shall we do when we lose 
you?" Mrs. Wheaton replied softly, "If I might, 
I would be your guardian angel." 

In June of the following year, Mrs. Beane was 
dying, and the custom of the tea-party having 
been once set aside, it seemed best that it should 
not be renewed. After this, the schoolgirls still 
had one glimpse of Mrs. Wheaton. When they 
were ready, in their graduation dresses, to go to 
church on the final Anniversary Day, they went 
together to take leave of Mrs. Wheaton, who still 
knew all about them, and loved each one, though 
they knew very little about her. She received them 
with the radiant smile so characteristic of her, 
spoke affectionately to them, one by one, and gave 
to each beautiful flowers from her garden. The 
little ceremony was like a benediction. 

In the summer of 1898, Mrs. Wheaton made an 
unusual change in her plans. The Spanish war 
had so jarred her nerves that she dreaded to go 
to the Isles of Shoals. She seemed to have an 
actual fear of being near Portsmouth while the 
Spanish prisoners were there. She accordingly 
decided to spend the summer at Princeton, Mass., 
where she could have the beautiful views and fine 
air of Mount Wachusett. The following year, she 


returned to the Shoals as usual, and, except in 
1903, when prevented by the grip, she continued 
to spend her summers there as long as she lived. 
She was making plans for another visit when her 
death occurred in 1905. 

Mrs. Beane was, of course, with her at Princeton. 
Mrs. Emerson and her daughter Frances joined the 
party there. The three old ladies who had been 
dear friends and co-workers sixty years before 
were once more brought intimately together in a 
friendship so warm that all the years had not been 
able to chill it. Miss Emerson wrote at this time: 
"The years are telling on them, but it is wonder- 
ful to see how well they are." 

During this summer, Mrs. Wheaton was deeply 
interested in Charles M. Sheldon's little book, "In 
His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?" This was 
the question she had always asked herself in every 
undertaking. She liked the book so much that she 
bought many copies of it to give away. 

She returned to Norton in time for her eighty- 
ninth birthday, and this she celebrated by making 
a call on her old friend, Mrs. Carpenter. Mrs. 
Wheaton had long ago given up making calls 
herself, thinking that her age excused her from 
the exertion, but Mrs. Carpenter, who lived to be 
100, was at this time 98, so that it was fitting that 
Mrs. Wheaton should defer to her. " It is a long 

[ 239 ] 

time," Mrs. Wheaton said, gleefully, "since I 
have had the opportunity to visit anybody nine 
years my senior I " 

On June 25, 1899, Mrs. Wheaton was called 
upon to part with the friend of sixty years, Mrs. 
Beane, who passed away in her eighty-sixth year. 
"And a great void is made by her death," Mrs. 
Wheaton wrote to a friend. Mrs. Beane's illness, 
originating in a fall, was long and distressing. 
She was confined to her room for many months. 

Immediately after Mrs. Beane's death, Mrs. 
Wheaton went to the Isles of Shoals, as usual, for 
the summer, accompanied by Miss Tozer. She 
wrote to me from there on July 11 : "The air is 
invigorating, but it fails to give me the strength 
that I formerly had when here, though I hope that 
will come after a time. My strength was heavily 
drawn upon by the solicitude I had for Mrs. Beane, 
and the many cares. She would often say: 'Pray 
the dear Father to take me home.' " 

In the same letter she writes: "I have the mis- 
fortune of having my sight impaired, one eye al- 
most blind, the other very blurry, but I have had 
the use of them for a great while: I shall be ninety 
years old in September. Excuse my egotism." 

Miss Tozer says that in the thirteen years of her 
life with Mrs. Wheaton, she never saw her break 
down but once, and that was at the suggestion of 

[ 240 ] 

blindness. It was not the thought of Mindness 
in itself that overwhelmed her, but the fear that 
she might need a guardian. Happily, the danger 
was averted, and, though her sight was dim, and 
she could not read and write, she never became 

Her hearing also began to fail, though she never 
became so deaf as to make it difficult for others to 
talk with her. One of the common, but exquisite 
pleasures remembered by all Wheaton women is 
the singing of the birds in the fine trees about the 
Wheaton Mansion and in the Seminary grounds. 
All the Wheaton girls "named every bird without 
a gun." And Mrs. Wheaton herself knew and 
loved every song. To Miss Pike, the teacher of 
ornithology, she said sadly, as spring came, " I can- 
not hear the birds. I shall never hear them again." 
Only one who has loved the birds and lost the 
power of hearing them can understand what a 
silent springtime means. But the next morning, 
when, as usual. Miss Pike looked in for a little 
daily chat, Mrs. Wheaton met her with one of her 
brightest smiles, and her first words were that the 
red-winged starlings had come, and that she had 
heard them singing. The peculiar reedy Quonk- 
a-ree of the starling had set her dull ear vibrating, 
when the notes of the robin, the bluebird, the song- 
sparrow, and the meadowlark were powerless. 

[241 ] 

She was as happy as a child over the recovered 

One of the common failings of old age is a 
growing tendency to penuriousness. That Mrs. 
Wheaton was entirely free from this tendency will 
be seen from a letter of hers to one of the alumnae, 
who says: "I have unfortunately lost the original 
letter, but it was very short, and to the purpose, 
as usual, and I can give it nearly verbatim: — 

"My dear Miss , — I have just passed 

my ninetieth birthday, and I feel that what I have 
still to do in this world I must do quickly. I hope, 
therefore, that you will do me the favor to accept 
the enclosed check with my love. 

"Hoping that the summer has brought strength 
both to you and to your mother, 

" I am affectionately your friend, 

"E. B. Wheaton. 

" The check was for five hundred dollars! It was 
as simply and sweetly given, a friend said, as if she 
had offered me a rose. Please remember that I 
had not seen Mrs. Wheaton for six years, and had 
never told her of the circumstances that made her 
letter a real godsend." 

Mrs. Wheaton used to say sometimes that 
though she had no children of her own, she had 
a very large family. In fact, she looked upon all 

[ 242 ] 

Wheaton girls as her daughters. For the sake of 
these daughters, she consented, in her ninety- 
fifth year, to sit for her portrait to Mr. John W. 
Alexander of New York. 

This portrait was exhibited in New York, and 
the critics gave it the highest praise, calling it " de- 
lightful," and "a veritable poem of the beauty of 
old age." Mr. Alexander himself speaks, in one of 
hrs letters to Mrs. Lincoln, of his gratification at 
having succeeded with the portrait of so " sweet 
and dear an old lady as Mrs. Wheaton." 

The portrait was given to the Seminary, and at 
its unveiling there was a large assembly of the 
alumnae, but Mrs. Wheaton was too feeble to cross 
the street from her own home to meet them. It was 
characteristic of her that she begged that the por- 
trait should not be given the chief place of honor 
in the drawing-room. "Do nothing to make my 
portrait more conspicuous than that of Father 
Wheaton," she said. She looked upon Judge 
Wheaton as the founder of the school, though hers 
had been the suggestion that set him thinking 
about it, and, as the years went by, her gifts had 
far exceeded his. Of her attitude of mind. Miss 
Pike writes : " Those names, * Father' and ' Mother' 
Wheaton, were always spoken with a reverent 
and affectionate emphasis. I think one of the 
fears overshadowing her later years was that her 

[ 243 ] 

name should be more prominent than that of 
' Father Wheaton.' " 

At the beginning of the exercises at the unveil- 
ing of the portrait, it was concealed by festoons 
of asparagus vines and apple blossoms, the "fra- 
grant covering" being at last drav^n aside by 
Nancy Adams and Rachel Little, two young girls, 
the daughter and granddaughter of Wheaton stu- 

The following poem by President Cole was read 
on this occasion: — 

At last, with all its silent grace, 
Amid the blossoms of the May 
There breaks upon our eyes to-day 

This vision of a lady's face. 

You know her ? Ay, you need not tell, 
A thousand daughters in the land 
Have known the welcome of that hand 

And felt its pressure of farewell. 

What benedictions in her gaze, 

What memories hover about her chair, 
As, sitting in the sunset there. 

She wears the crown of well-spent days. 

O, little birds that come to bless 

Our woodlands, round her doorway sing; 
Beneath her windows, flowers of spring, 

Lift up to her your loveliness. 

For she, in many a heart of need, 
Hath put a song in place of tears, 

[ 244 ] 

And scattered down these golden years 
The flowers of many a kindly deed. 

So, like a seed upon the ground, 

There fell a thought once from her heart; 
If you would know how large a part 

That thought has stood for, look around! 

For one who loved her planted it; 

One cherished it for what might be; 

She watched the seed become the Tree, 
Beneath whose grateful shade we sit. 

A thousand daughters did I say ? 
Ah, as I see the lengthening line 
Far down the future's pathway shine, 

And pass, and still not pass away, 

I cannot count them! Come and go 
They will forever; grove and hall 
And each familiar scene they all 

Will cherish; and the Tree will grow. 

But when in some remoter hour, 
Strangers behold how great the task 
Accomplished, and are moved to ask, 

Whence came the impulse and the power. 

Then silently, within this place 
Of such beginnings, there will rise 
For answer to their wondering eyes 

The vision of this lady's face. 

Mrs. Annes A. Lincoln and Miss Pike had been 
appointed to carry out the arrangements for the 
portrait. In a paper written by Mrs. Lincoln for 


the Wheaton Memorial meeting, though not read 
at that time, owing to her illness, she speaks of 
the circumstances connected with the painting of 
the portrait, and though reminiscences of earlier 
days are also given in this paper, it has seemed best 
to present most of it here in its original form. 


Mrs. Wheaton was to me, when a schoolgirl, 
a great personage. The semi-seclusion in which, 
owing to her husband's death, she lived during 
the two years of my student life, lent a sort of 
mystery to the Wheaton Mansion and grounds 
which my few formal visits while teaching at the 
Seminary never quite dispelled. It was after my 
marriage that my real acquaintance with Mrs. 
Wheaton began. 

Years before that event, Mr. Wheaton had aided 
a young townsman beginning business under un- 
usual difficulties, and, when suffering from his 
final illness, it was by Mr. Wheaton's desire that 
the young man whom he had befriended was often 
a watcher at his bedside, and was with him when 
he breathed his last. Mrs. Wheaton never forgot 
the associations of that hour, and between her and 
that young man, afterward my husband, there 
existed, as long as she lived, the most genuine 
sympathy and regard. One of the first guests to be 


entertained In our home was Mrs. Wheaton, — not 
at a formal luncheon or dinner, but at a simple 
company tea. Those of you who are old enough 
will remember what that was. 

In keeping with the simple life of which Mrs. 
Wheaton was a true exponent, she, and her friend 
and ours, Mrs. Beane, in acceptance of our invi- 
tation, walked down to the house at the east of 
Neck Woods, bringing with them a lantern to guide 
them through the unlighted streets on their return. 

After leaving Norton, for many years I saw Mrs. 
Wheaton only at long intervals, but on those rare 
occasions her greeting was always the same: "I am 
very glad to see you; how is your husband .?" 

It was only when I was once more officially con- 
nected with the Seminary that I saw her regularly. 

But it was when associated by her request with 
Miss Pike in arranging for the painting of her por- 
trait, and I saw her frequently, that I came to know 
our dear friend intimately. I realized then, for the 
first time, the yearning love which she had lavished 
silently upon two generations of schoolgirls, — a 
tender solicitude which we dimly comprehended 
at the time, but which we, mature women, are 
gathered to-day to acknowledge, together with our 
appreciation of her high ideals and noble character. 

The modesty that led her to avoid any conspicu- 
ous position on public occasions, coupled with a 

[ 247 ] 

profound sense of responsibility in the administra- 
tion of the estate committed to her, and which 
restrained all lavish expenditure in her own behalf, 
made her hesitate to devote a large sum for a por- 
trait of herself. But once persuaded that it was the 
desire of her " thousand daughters," that it was 
right and wise, she desired no delay in the prosecu- 
tion of the work. 

In the sittings, it was noticeable that it was not 
her own fatigue, but the comfort of the artist and 
those associated in executing her commission, that 
occupied her attention. This would have been 
remarkable in one of her years, if it had not been 
her lifelong habit to consider all about her. 

I am sure it would be the wish of Mrs. Wheaton 
that her final charge to the daughters of Wheaton 
should be repeated on this memorial occasion. 
As I sat beside her on the morning of the presenta- 
tion of the portrait, taking her hand in mine, I 
asked if she had any special message for her girls. 
It was evident that she had been thinking of them, 
and that the desire and prayer of many years were 
formulated in her reply: — 

"Say to the Wheaton girls, it is my wish and ; 
hope that as they come in contact with the world, 
it shall be the better and happier for their having 
lived in it." 

This aim was to her the purpose of all education, 


the corner-stone of Wheaton Seminary; not a 
training that would send young women out into the 
world enriched by knowledge of history, science, 
and literature, to be better and happier women 
themselves, but to enrich and ennoble other lives, 
and that each in her place should do her part in 
promoting the reign of universal righteousness 
and peace. 

I would like to speak of Mrs. Wheaton's broad 
sympathies, which embraced not only the multi- 
tudes in our own land, but which reached out to the 
needs of those in the uttermost parts of the earth, 
as manifested in liberal and regular gifts to home 
and foreign missionary boards; but I have already 
passed my time limit, and must leave to others the 
privilege of presenting many other distinguishing 
and endearing attributes of our friend, whose mem- 
ory we honor to-day. 

The following sonnet, written by Mrs. Wheaton's 
niece, Mrs. John Jay Smith (Mary Chapin) of 
Highlands, N. C, belongs in this place: — 


Thou sittest as thy wont in quiet state, 

Thine eyes down-dropping in reflective gaze; 
Perchance thou dost return through winding maze 
Of life's dim path to seek thy long-lost mate, 
Thy friends so well-beloved, who have of late 

[ 249 ] 

With willing steps tried shining, unknown ways; 

And dost with fondness now retrace the days 
Full of fair joys vouchsafed by kindly fate. 
Where'er thy thoughts may stray, from some calm bowers 

Of thy soul's peace there comes a holy light, 
Perhaps from memory's far lands, whose hours 

Are always golden, always sweet and bright; 
Or does the future lend its heavenly grace 
To the soft radiance of thy tender face ? 

Though Mrs. Wheaton retained to a wonderful 
degree the power of making new friends in her old 
age, yet the old friends who were left became dearer 
and dearer. Her interest in the school was as warm 
and personal as in her early days. After Miss 
Stanton's resignation, it was upon Miss Pike that 
she depended for the daily chat about the girls, 
which was in no sense gossip, but the result of a 
large human interest. Miss Pike tells us of the 
beautiful smile with which she was always greeted, 
Mrs. Wheaton often coming to the door to meet 
her. "How do you do, and how are they all at the 
Seminary ? " she always asked, with that character- 
istically sincere manner that showed the questions 
were not merely perfunctory. Then she would ask 
about the classes. "I saw the girls going to the 
Observatory last evening. What did you see 
through the telescope ?" "I saw you walking with 
the natural history class this morning before break- 
fast. What birds did you hear?" And so on, and 
so on. 

[ 250 ] 


From the painting by John JV. Alexander 

If any girl or teacher was reported ill, the first 
question was, "What can I do to help ? Is there 
anything in my house that is needed ?" Her impulse 
was to share everything she had with the Seminary. 
In fact, the Seminary generally got the lion's share, 
especially in the distribution of her superb Black 
Hamburg grapes. She liked, too, to share her daily 
drives with the Seminary teachers, and gave them 
many happy hours in that way. 

When Miss Pike went to Boston for the meetings 
of the New England Wheaton Club, Mrs. Wheaton 
always sent her love to all the old pupils, — " to 
any of them," — and on Miss Pike's return, she 
wanted to hear a detailed account of the meeting. 

Her hospitality never failed. One of the alumnae 
writes: "I recall being at her home, at one time, 
when an aged colored woman called. It was near 
the dinner-hour, and she was invited to partake. 
Mrs. Wheaton remarked that no one must come 
to her house near a meal-time without being invited 
to stay. She said: 'Hospitality is a Christian 
virtue, and I could not call myself a Christian and 
do otherwise.' " 

To those she loved she would say, especially 
towards the last, " Come as often as you can. Come 
soon." Miss Tozer writes: "As guests saw Mrs. 
Wheaton, so she was all the time in the home. She 
was always gracious and courteous to every one, 


servant as well as guest. It seemed to me that she 
grew more lovely every year. She certainly grew 
old gracefully." She was cheerful. Though always 
ready for conversation, she was never garrulous, 
and seldom told anecdotes of her past, not because 
she had lost her interest in it, but because of her 
lifelong habit of putting herself aside. When talk- 
ing with old friends, she recalled old days with great 
animation. One of the alumnae writes: "When I 
last went to see her, she was ninety-three years old, 
and she told me, with the greatest interest and plea- 
sure, the story of the courtship of my father and 
mother, which had fallen under her eye sixty years 
before." It is clear her reticence about the past 
was not due to forgetfulness. 

Miss Sarah Orne Jewett, a descendant of the old 
Perry family of Norton, lifelong friends of the 
Wheatons, in a letter to Miss Pike, speaks of the 
same characteristic. She says: "I remember with 
great pleasure the last time I saw Mrs. Wheaton, 
when I went to call upon her with my mother, who 
had not seen her for a great many years. I believe 
that they had never met since my mother was 
hardly more than a child, though, through my 
grandfather, her old friend, Mrs. Wheaton had 
known something of all his family from time to 
time. It was perfectly charming to me to see her 
welcome my mother, and take so sweetly the part 

[ 252 ] 

of an elder friend, though my mother was no longer 
young (or I either!). The old relation was instantly 
taken up, and I could see with what pleasure they 
both returned to the old interests as if they had 
parted but a month before instead of more than 
fifty years. She called my mother by her childish 
name, and gave back youth with the very sound of 
it. They talked eagerly together, and laughed a 
little at the primness of an old acquaintance whose 
name they recalled, and I had a new sense of the 
delight of early friendships, and the rare pleasure to 
a woman of my mother's age who finds a friend so 
much older still remembering her very childhood, 
and still living in all the affectionate interests of the 
past. Mrs. Wheaton's dignity of character and 
simple courtesy to all her guests were very charming 
to see. She was fixed in her old-fashioned serious 
ways of life, but there was a ready and exquisite 
human sympathy, a power of enjoyment, even a 
touch of gayety, that the duller standards and habits 
of the years of her middle life could never have quite 
repressed. I could see from this interview what a 
lovely part she had played in constantly remem- 
bering the Wheaton Seminary girls and welcoming 
them. Often and often the elder graduates must 
have found her the only person who could remem- 
ber their dear school days. And this growing in- 
terest of her life repaid her for all her generosities, 

[ 253 ] 

in a great harvest of friendships that kept her from 
being lonely, and made her sure to the very end 
that she v^^as of use in a cheerful world." 

[Miss Pike w^rites in this connection of Miss 
Jewett's grandfather: "Dear old Dr. Perry ^ v^as an 
admirer of Judge Wheaton, and when he came into 
our family advising my dear father and mother 
to send me to Wheaton Seminary, he told the story 
of his affection for the family who founded the 
school. Then he asked my mother if she would 
not like to have him take me out to Norton, and of 
course she felt that Dr. Perry's introduction would 
be worth while, and accepted the offer gratefully. 
It was he who took me to Mrs. Wheaton, and, 
for his sake, interest on her part was at once en- 
listed in me. With her own hands, she brought the 
little cup of jelly which was the dearest medicine 
for illness that a girl could have [alluding to a 
slight indisposition when Miss Pike was a little 
homesick new scholar], Mrs. Wheaton took me to 
drive, and pointed out the childhood home of Dr. 
Perry, and on our way home, told me the story of 
travelling from the White Mountains via Exeter, of 
being in church the morning after arriving in town, 
and of Dr. Perry's surprise when he distributed 
the bread and wine at the communion service, and 
found Mr. Wheaton and herself present. As soon 

' Of Exeter, N.H. 

as the service was over, he ordered their trunks 
taken from the hotel to his own house. Mrs. Whea- 
ton dwelt with evident pleasure upon the entertain- 
ment in the family."] 

There was always a peculiar serenity about 
Mrs. Wheaton's home. Though Mrs. Wheaton 
seldom spoke of her feelings to any one, yet no one 
could be with her, even for a day, without realizing 
that the whole undercurrent of her existence was 
religious. Religion was the absolute foundation 
of her home and of her life. Everything else was 
secondary. With her intimate friends she would 
sometimes have a quiet "little talk," as one of 
them has said, and she loved to read and repeat 
hymns and chapters from the Bible with those 
who were dear to her. Miss Pike mentions among 
her favorite hymns, the Shepherd Psalm (The 
Lord my Shepherd is) and Jerusalem the Golden, 
and among the Bible selections, the 91st Psalm, 
" He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most 

During her last years she took special pleasure 
in the reading of passages from "Leaflets for 
Lent," by Mrs. Laura Tilden Greene. Some ex- 
tracts from a letter of Mrs. Greene's will show the 
breadth of Mrs. Wheaton's Christianity, even in 
the early forties, when sectarian strife was at its 

[ 255 ] 

"As far back as the very early forties, my father, 
Rev. W. P. Tilden, was the Unitarian minister in 
Norton. During the four years of his ministry, 
Mrs. Wheaton was so genuinely cordial and sym- 
pathetic that she was regarded by our household 
as a personal friend, though as you well know, 
herself a zealous Congregationalist. 

" My father and mother sustained their first 
great sorrow in the loss of a rarely beautiful boy. 
This filled my father with power to comfort others' 
sorrows, and words then spoken at a similar be- 
reavement were kept close in Mrs. Wheaton's heart 
for fifty years, and repeated to me from her own 
lips in gently trembling accents. 

" ' He who formed the parent heart knows its own 
sorrow when bereaved.' You may imagine how 
it thrilled me to hear these words out of the silence 
of fifty years, — for, in the early nineties, I was a 
guest at her house while replacing a little monu- 
ment that was originally the gift of a sympathetic 
people. She spoke of our mother as a ' natural 
Christian,' — did not her religion run deep and 
broad and strong as she spoke thus of those who 
held another faith than her own ?" 

Mrs. Wheaton much enjoyed the visit that it 
was the custom of Dr. Cole to pay to her every 
Sunday after church. When she was no longer 
able to go to church herself, the prayer Dr. Cole 


offered at each of these visits gave her something 
of the pleasure of the more public service. 

Dr. Cole says that on these occasions, as on all 
others, her thoughtfulness for others W3.s marked, 
that neither w^eakness nor illness nor age ever caused 
her to forget to inquire for the v^elfare of all w^ho 
needed her interest. 

Her religion manifested itself in the spirit of the 
two great commandments, in love to God, and 
in love to her fellov^-beings. It was not possible 
for her to separate the two. 

Every one who knew Mrs. Wheaton, whether 
of the same creed or not, felt that hers was a life 
consecrated from the beginning, and lived in the 
same spirit unwaveringly to the end. Perhaps it 
was as much her reverence for sacred things as her 
great reserve of nature, that kept her from speak- 
ing freely of what was in her heart. But no one 
evermore fully "put" her" creed" into her "deed" 
than she did. She lived her religion. 




Elected 1870. Chosen President of the Board 18S5. 

In the beautiful poem by President Cole, read at 
the unveiling of that masterpiece of the painter's 
art, the portrait of Mrs. Wheaton in her ninety- 
fifth year, by Mr. John W. Alexander of New 
York, the author sends our thoughts onward, as 
successive generations of pupils at the Seminary 
shall enjoy and exalt its ample provisions for 
their need. His words are: — 

But when, in some remoter hour, 

Strangers behold how great the task 
AccompHshed, and are moved to ask 

Whence came the impulse and the power, 

Then silently, within this place 

Of such beginnings, there will rise 
For answer to their wondering eyes 

The vision of this lady's face. 

Yes, and the vision will be a revelation. No one, 
whether pupil or parent, journeying hither and for 
the first time looking upon the form and features 
thus delineated, shall fail to see, even in that 


portraiture of advanced age, the lines of kindly 
thought, of conscious power, of serenity and dig- 
nity, the marks of true worth. Yet the sight will 
awaken a desire to know more. What was this 
woman in the more active years of her long and 
useful life ? Hence, with natural eagerness, many 
will turn to this volume in which loving hearts and 
skilful hands have striven to emulate those mar- 
vellous productions of modern art, the moving 
pictures, in which life is seen in actual motion, and 
the expressive postures and the speaking gestures, 
and even the changing play of the features, 
are clear. So competent have these word-painters 
proved, that a true "living picture" has been pro- 
duced, and all are able to look upon this "elect 
lady" as she moves onward through the successive 
stages of her remarkable career. 

They have opened for us the doors of her well- 
ordered home, and have shown us the hostess dis- 
pensing a gracious hospitality. They have with- 
drawn the veil from her intimacies with her closest 
friends, her kindred, her companions, inmates often 
of her household, teachers at Wheaton Seminary, 
or at other schools, with whom an intimacy of 
many years had ripened into a confidential friend- 
ship, her tried and true associates in establishing 
and developing the institution which bears her 

[ 259 ] 

They have permitted us to follow her as, in 
company with certain valued friends, she has 
sought refreshment, during the heats of summer, 
in the mountains, or on the shores of the sea, es- 
pecially at her favorite resort in mid-ocean, the 
Isles of Shoals, where the little company found 
abundant opportunities for restful communion 
with nature, and gained strength for coming days 
of care. 

It has, however, been desired that still another 
aspect of Mrs. Wheaton's character be presented: 
How did she appear in her relations with the 
trustees ^ Having given into their care the man- 
agement of this sacred trust, how did she bear her- 
self towards them in all the shifting changes which 
every institution of progressive aims must pass 
through in the long course of years .? 

My first knowledge of Mrs. Wheaton and the 
Seminary came to me while I was a student in 
Brown University, in the early fifties, from the 
frequent and enthusiastic tributes paid to them by 
a zealous friend, a Christian merchant of Provi- 
dence, Mr. William J. King, from 1848 to 1885 
an active and influential member of the Board 
of Trustees. I was occasionally honored by an 
invitation to take his place in giving the pupils 
an address at their religious meetings, where his 
quaint and vigorous speech, enlivened by touches 

[ 260 ] 

of humor, but always enlightening and impressive, 
was greatly prized. 

Later, I saw how Mrs. Wheaton was revered by 
other trustees of that day. Rev, Henry B. Hooker, 
D. D., Rev. Jacob Ide, and Rev. Dr. Mortimer 
Blake, for some time the President of the Board. 
Rev. Alfred Emerson, a trustee from 1873 to 1893, 
and treasurer from 1881 to 1892, was specially 
active in carrying out the munificent plans of 
Mrs. Wheaton in the various improvements during 
those years. An inspiration came to this worthy 
man from the fact that in earlier times, when a 
strange prejudice existed against advanced acad- 
emies for girls, his father, Rev. Joseph Emerson 
of Beverly, w^as active in establishing and main- 
taining schools for the higher education of young 

A like influence has sensibly deepened my own 
interest in Wheaton Seminary, inasmuch as my 
mother, Caroline Robbins Hale, encountered the 
same prejudice in her youth, both as a pupil in 
one of the oldest New England seminaries, and as 
Principal of Cortland Academy for young ladies 
in Homer, N, Y, 

As many can testify from personal observation, 
Mrs, Wheaton was possessed of keen insight and 
sound judgment in financial matters, and never 

[ 26- ] 

embarrassed the trustees by any visionary or other 
questionable plans for the administration of Sem- 
inary affairs. In all the years of my membership 
on the Board, I never knew^ of a single instance in 
which she sought to obtrude her opinions in oppo- 
sition to theirs. She fully recognized the respon- 
sibilities and rights of their office, and never showed 
any disposition to override their action, or to set 
aside their conclusions. 

I doubt not the esteemed treasurer of the Board, 
Mr. Edwin Barrows, whose service began in 1865, 
and who enjoyed an early acquaintance with the 
Wheaton family, and Judge Fox, Chairman of the 
Finance Committee, and, also, the President of 
the Seminary, Rev. Dr. Cole, — all of whom have 
naturally been most frequently in consultation 
with Mrs. Wheaton, — would bear the same tes- 
timony to her uniformly respectful deference to 
their judgment. Indeed, so manifest was her grate- 
ful appreciation of the labors of love which the 
trustees were continually putting forth, some of 
them with rare devotion, to safeguard the valuable 
foundations here laid, and to erect upon them a 
stately and an enduring structure, a monument 
to the wisdom and beneficence of her honored 
husband and of his revered father, and so frank 
and courteous were the frequent conferences be- 
tween Mrs. Wheaton and the Board, in consul- 

[ 262 ] 

tation, also, with certain of the most experienced 
and consecrated members of the Faculty, that I 
can recall no instance of any serious conflict of 
opinion which did not yield to the truly Christian 
spirit which always animated this able and con- 
scientious woman. 

And this naturally leads to the statement of 
one further fact, a fact which alone induced me to 
yield to repeated requests and furnish a contri- 
bution to this volume, a volume prepared as a lov- 
ing tribiile to the worth of our benefactress. It 
was the religious character of the school which 
lay nearest to the heart of this wise and far-seeing 
friend. She was keenly alive, indeed, to the neces- 
sity of its ministering to a high intellectual culture. 
She deeply appreciated the necessity of recognizing 
the claims of a broadening arena of usefulness for 
the educated young women of our time, adapting 
them to the new exigencies of modern life as re- 
lated to woman's work. She was ambitious that 
here young women should attain a symmetrical 
and vigorous physical development, fitting them 
for the arduous and exacting duties of the exalted 
positions of usefulness many of them would be 
called to fill. She was conscious, too, of the newer 
comprehension of late of the ethical relations the 
cultivated woman is to sustain in the home, in 
society, and in connection with social reform in 

[ 263 ] 

consequence of the growing altruism and humani- 
tarianism which are the glory of our age, and in 
which woman has an increasing share. 

And yet, there was one thing whose importance 
she judged overtopped all these aims, one object 
which outranked everything else, one purpose 
never to be forgotten, but always to control in 
every department of administration in the entire 
school life: Mrs. Wheaton's supreme desire was 
that this institution should continue to be as it was 
originally designed to be, from deepest founda- 
tion to topmost pinnacle, a Christian school, per- 
vaded by the spirit of Christ, and continually im- 
buing youthful aspirations and purposes, thoughts, 
words, deeds, with a glad and grateful devotion to 
the most precious of all friends, the World's Re- 
deemer, "the Son of God manifested to destroy 
the works of the devil." That this work might go 
on and on, this purpose be more and more ful- 
filled, was her chief solicitude, and her brightest 
hope for the future of the school. 

During the twenty-six years of the principalship 
of the vigorous Mrs. Metcalf, Mrs. Wheaton was 
in ardent sympathy with the spirit and methods 
of that strong religious personality. In those days, 
as more or less ever since, the young ladies enjoyed 
the privilege of feeling the impress of many per- 
sons of remarkable religious experience and power 

[ 264 ] 

of service, who were invited to visit the school and 
address the students, — returned missionaries, 
Christian workers, lay and clerical, men and wo- 
men, some of whom are still remembered for their 
able and convincing exhibitions of the reasonable- 
ness of the religious life. The ruling thoughts of 
those personal friends of the Principal made the 
fact evident to the listeners that no mere system 
of ethics is a sufficient foundation for character, 
inasmuch as morality is incomplete without re- 
ligion. There can be no worthy character that 
leaves out of view the personal relations of the soul 
to God. It is impossible to perform aright our 
duty to our fellow-men unless they are first of all 
regarded in our mutual relations to our Heavenly 
Father and to His will concerning us. And har- 
mony of feeling with God is attainable by us all. 

Not to mention any of those teachers who in 
recent years have faithfully striven to fulfil the 
high duty of building up a true Christian character 
in the school, there were some instructors whose 
marked saintliness of life and immeasurable in- 
fluence for good, as gratefully acknowledged by 
many of our widely scattered graduates, clearly 
reflected the earnestly evangelical spirit of Mrs. 
Wheaton, with whom they were in constant fellow- 
ship of closest intimacy. I well remember her 

[ 265 ] 

warm sympathy with Miss Carter and Miss Briggs, 
and others I could name, in their effective rehgious 
zeal. And I know many of the graduates, in their 
memory of teachers and visitors, to this day al- 
ways associate with the most powerful forces for 
good in those formative days of their youth, the 
personal character of the benignant lady who, not 
less in these active years than in her great age, was 
looked upon by all with sincere veneration as well 
as with gratitude and love. 

I recall a memorable afternoon spent at the 
Seminary by the late Bishop Brooks, the result 
of which gave Mrs. Wheaton extreme and lasting 
satisfaction. It chanced that Lucy Larcom was 
also our guest that day. As we sat with a group of 
the teachers around the open fire in the drawing- 
room, the conversation turned upon the subject of 
penmanship, in view of my praise of the clear and 
open specimen shown in a recent letter from the 
Bishop. "I hold it immoral to write poorly," he 
said. "What right has any one to impose upon his 
correspondent the irksome task of deciphering an 
illegible scrawl?" Well, the great preacher had 
the gift of writing plainly upon souls, for his ser- 
mon that day on the Saviour's words, "I am the 
way, and the truth, and the life," fixed indelibly 
the best of all lessons on the heart of one fair 
maiden, a pupil from another state, who had not 

[ 266 ] 

been reared in the Evangelical faith, and I had the 
pleasure of writing to the good man, in as fair a 
hand as I could command, a message which, even 
if blindly written, he would have been glad to 
decipher, that another immortal soul had passed 
from death to life. That pupil has for many years 
occupied an influential position in life, and in her 
elegant home, and in society, and as a promi- 
nent member of a club of Wheaton Alumnae, has 
proved again, "How great a matter a little fire 

Other instances of the wide influence for good 
of the Wheaton girls in various walks of life, and 
in home or foreign missionary fields, when related 
to our beloved patroness, lightened her features 
with a smile of thankfulness and inefi^able peace. 

One graduate, some of whose children are now 
themselves at the head of happy households, and 
some of them giving the impress of their editorial 
thought to daily newspapers in important cities, 
was once requested by the congregation of her hus- 
band, during his temporary illness, to take his 
place in their pulpit, preaching his sermons or 
giving her own, which she did for several months, 
to the satisfaction of all concerned. No wonder the 

husband of such a helpmate remarked, " is 

of the salt of the earth, and fine salt at that." 

Sunday-school children are sometimes asked 

[ 267 ] 

"Who is the happiest man in the Bible?" They 
know who is the strongest man, the meekest, the 
oldest. Who can doubt that this distinction of 
superior happiness belongs to the beloved disciple 
who reclined on the Saviour's bosom at the last 
feast ? And yet he says : " I have no greater joy 
than to hear that my children walk in the truth." 
Mrs. Wheaton, having no children, looked upon all 
the Wheaton girls as her very own, and her joy in 
their character and success was a valued solace to 
her in the infirmities of her declining years. 

There is a single further consideration which it 
seems natural to name in this connection. The 
kind of service rendered by the trustees of such a 
school, or by those who serve other public interests, 
which lie outside the claims of their personal busi- 
ness or profession, though gratuitously given, is 
never unpaid. The duties of such management 
are sometimes exacting and laborious, calling for 
protracted attention and the best exercise of one's 
powers. But such gifts always return upon their 
givers, awakening broader sympathies, exalting 
their entire nature, and also affording an unalloyed 
satisfaction in the useful results thus unselfishly 

Mrs. Wheaton seemed impelled to improve 
every suitable opportunity to express her sincere 

[ 268 ] 

thankfulness to the trustees, her sense of the large 
indebtedness of the Seminary to the integrity, the 
fideUty, and the assiduity with which they sought 
to fulfil their trust. But they might well respond: 
" We are already having our abundant reward in 
the privilege of being continually associated in these 
responsibilities, and in occasional and always de- 
lightful intercourse, with one who represents so 
fine a type of Christian womanhood." 

Especially in all the successive revelations of the 
ever widening influence of this institution in pro- 
moting a high Christian culture in future years, 
and in all coming triumphs in worthy endeavor 
of those who shall receive their education here, 
the trustees can say: "If in any degree our efforts 
have aided in securing these happy results, and 
thus fulfilling the high purposes of those who 
founded and endowed the school, 'We are sharers 
in this their joy.'" 



In Mrs. Wheaton's last letter to Miss Pike, urging 
her to visit her soon, she says: "I wish you could 
take an early train Saturday morning and get here 
at 10 o'clock, to ride with me after my pair of new 
black horses. I should love to have you. Can't you ? 
And plan to spend the Sabbath with us." 

How young and fresh this sounds! It was dic- 
tated on May ii, 1905, and was the last letter ever 
dictated by Mrs. Wheaton. On Saturday, May 20, 
she took her last daily drive, for when Miss Tozer 
returned from Boston, whither she had been, at 
Mrs. Wheaton's desire, for the annual meeting of 
the New England Wheaton Club, she found that 
Mrs. Wheaton had been coughing all the afternoon, 
and Dr. Arthur Round, the family physician, was 
called in. Mrs. Wheaton met him with a smile, 
saying there was no real need of his coming, as she 
was not ill. He thought her symptoms those of the 
grip, a disease of which she had suffered several 
attacks in her later years. She was, however, able 
to take tea with the family, and she was interested 

[ 270 ] 

in hearing all Miss Tozer had to tell her of the 
Club meeting. 

On Sunday morning she came downstairs as 
usual, but the effort was too much for her, and she 
soon returned to her own room, which she never 
again left. The cough no longer troubled her; she 
lay calmly in bed without suffering. She was simply 
tired, she said. As day by day passed quietly by, 
she was even able to attend to necessary business. 

She was not only free from pain, but happy. 
Miss Tozer writes : " During those last two weeks of 
her life, she was so sweet and lovely all the time, 
quietly slipping away from us. The last verse of 
the hymn she loved so well ('My Faith looks up to 
Thee') was a prayer which she loved to repeat. 

"When ends life's transient dream, 
When death's cold, sullen stream 

Shall o'er me roll, 
Blest Saviour! then, in love, 
Fear and distrust remove, 
Oh, bear me safe above, 

A ransomed soul! 

" She was naturally so timid, and had such a 
dread of the final change, — physical fear of the 
great and final change. It was beautiful to see 
how, at last, all fear and distrust were removed, and 
she was 'borne above, a ransomed soul.' " 

On the morning of Wednesday, May 31, she 
seemed to be sinking^ fast, and a message was sent 

[ 271 ] 

to her pastor, Rev. Mr. RatclifFe, over the telephone 
wires connecting her house with the parsonage. 
Mr. RatcHfFe was away at the moment, but Mrs. 
Ratcliffe at once responded to the message, and 
remained with Mrs. Wheaton to the end. 

Mrs. Wheaton had already rallied. Mrs. Rat- 
cliffe writes: "She received me as if I had returned 
from a long journey, asking me about my husband, 
if he were not coming to see her, and about our 
girls. . . . Her thoughtfulness for others never failed 
even during those last hours. In a short time her 
pastor came in, and, after greeting him in her bright 
way and chatting for a few minutes, she asked him 
if he would not offer prayer. He knelt by her bed- 
side, and thinking he might weary her, offered a 
short prayer. She thanked him with a rather dis- 
appointed sigh. 'That was very short; I wanted a 
long one.' So once more he knelt by her side, and 
prayed again, which seemed to satisfy her. 

" The brightness gradually faded, and during the 
afternoon and early evening she rested quietly, 
now and then waking to take nourishment, or to 
inquire for some relative or friend. When we asked 
her how she felt, she would say, 'I feel la-a-zy;' 
or if we asked if she were comfortable, *I am just 

" During the evening she repeated some of her 
favorite passages from The Word, saying the one 

[ 272 ] 

hundred and thirty-seventh psalm with Miss Tozer. 
Then she asked me if I would not repeat the verses 
she so loved, the beautiful hymn, Ray Palmer's — 

" My faith looks up to Thee, 
Thou Lamb of Calvary, 

Saviour divine: 
Now hear me while I pray. 
Take all my guilt away, 
O let me from this day 

Be wholly Thine. 

She repeated the last line several times, — *Be 
wholly Thine,' and, during the last hours, we heard 
her say 'wholly Thine, wholly Thine.' At about 
nine o'clock, the usual time of retiring, she said, 
*I am sleepy. Lucy, put out the lights and light 
my "little beauty"' (the new night-lamp). When 
this had been done, she repeated her childhood's 
prayer: — 

" Now I lay me down to sleep, 
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep, 
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take. 

The morning brought no great change. She 
seemed comfortable, only weaker. She referred once 
to looking through her * lace curtain ' (the new green 
leaves) to see the girls across the street. We passed 
the second night watching, listening eagerly for 
every precious word from her lips. She repeated 
with her nephew, Mr. Samuel Chapin, the beauti- 

[ 273 ] 

ful words from St. John's Gospel, *In my Father's 
house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place 
for you, that where I am, there ye may be also.' " 

She looked up to Miss Tozer and said, "Dear 
Lucy, you have been such a comfort to me." Miss 
Tozer says she always expressed gratitude for 
what was done for her. 

As day began to dawn, some one thought Mrs. 
Wheaton said, "It is growing dark." Her nephew 
bent over her and said, " It is n't dark, is it. Auntie ? " 
"No! No!" she answered, with a beaming smile. 
Then Miss Pike, the Wheaton teacher most dear 
to her, asked if she had any message of love for 
the Wheaton girls. "Oh, yes!" she answered, her 
face becoming more and more radiant. And this 
was her last word. 

Mrs. Ratcliffe writes: "In a little while, just as 
the sun was flooding the world with June glory, 
the silver cord was loosed, the golden bowl was 
broken, and a great spirit entered into eternal 

This was on Friday, June 2, 1905. On Monday, 
June 5, the last services were held for her in the 
church she had so loved, her own gift to the village. 
On that day, the little town was full of strangers 
who were not strangers, for they were the Wheaton 
girls who had come back, after ten, twenty — 
some of them after fifty — years, to the spot where 

[ 274 ] 

their early lives had been shaped, to do honor to 
the woman to whose generosity they felt they owed 
much that had made those lives best worth living. 

It was a perfect June day, and, as they moved 
slowly down the still, elm-shaded street from Mrs. 
Wheaton's home to the church, the fragrance of 
the buttercups in the meadows below the Seminary 
recalled to many a gray-haired woman the peace 
and sweetness of the Sunday walk of her girlhood, 
when she may, perhaps, have watched the dignified 
figures of Mr. and Mrs. Wheaton going them- 
selves to church as punctually and faithfully as the 
girls were required to do. 

The long procession of Seminary girls, dressed 
in white and with uncovered heads, paused on 
the green before the church, and, forming in two 
lines, awaited the coming of the earthly form of 
their old friend; and, as the casket was borne 
through their ranks into the church, they strewed 
flowers and sweet grasses before it. The Alumnae 
had filled the church with flowers, the choicest 
and most beautiful that could be found, remember- 
ing Mrs. Wheaton's lifelong love of flowers, and 
the treasures from her own garden she had given 
them so generously in years long past. 

The little church was crowded not only with 
the Seminary teachers and girls, with the Alumnae, 
and other friends from a distance, but with the 

[ 275 ] 

townspeople, to whom Mrs. Wheaton had always 
been a loyal friend. 

The service was simple and beautiful. The 
pastor of the church told briefly the story all were 
longing to hear of the last happy hours of their old 
friend. Then Rev. Dr. Cole, President of the 
Seminary, spoke as follows : — 

"Some live long, but not well; some live well, 
but not long; and some there are who live both long 
and well. In this last-named class belongs the dear 
friend whose loss we mourn. 

" Born in the memorable year which gave birth 
to Tennyson and Gladstone and Darwin and 
Mendelssohn and Chopin and Abraham Lincoln 
and Oliver Wendell Holmes, she saw the stirring 
events and the mighty changes of practically the 
whole nineteenth century pass before her eyes. 
Every man, woman, or child who was alive in 
Norton when she came here as a bride, in 1829, 
has, I am told, with but a single exception, pre- 
ceded her to the Silent Land. 

" But her crowning distinction was not length of 
days; it was nobility of character. She has been a 
quiet and pervasive influence through all the com- 
munity. It has been felt with especial force in the 
school that was so dear to her heart. 

"We emphasize to-day, not what she did, — great 
and varied as her benefactions were, — we em- 


phasize what she was. The most potent and last- 
ing influence in all this world is the influence of a 
good life. Kindliness of heart, dignity and gracious- 
ness of manner, unfailing courtesy, a thoughtful- 
ness that never forgot these, with a simplicity of 
life, and a singular hospitality for new ideas, are 
among the things that every one who knew Mrs. 
Wheaton will associate with her name. She was 
the friend of every good word and work in Semi- 
nary, or church, or town. She feared nothing so 
much as that she might not do her full duty. She 
administered her earthly possessions as a sacred 
trust, and was ever mindful of the time when she 
should render her account. The voice she longed 
to hear, and has already heard, was that of the 
Master, saying: 'Well done, good and faithful ser- 
vant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' 

"In the room in which she died, there hangs a 
motto on which her eyes have often looked. The 
words of the motto are these: 'At evening time 
there shall be light.' When my acquaintance with 
her began, — and it began much later than in the 
case of many of you, — it was already in the even- 
ing of her life. But no shadows were gathering. 
The evening was like the day. She walked in the 
light, she lived the life of the spirit. Of unusual 
sagacity and judgment in practical aflPairs, she kept 
her affections on things above. She cherished the 

[ '^n ] 

imperishable ideal of the Christian faith. Hers, in 
no ordinary degree, was the comforting sense of the 
presence of God. 

"And now she is gone. Let the tears fall, not 
for her, but for ourselves. For her, therg is nothing 
to regret. We sorrow that we shall see her face no 
more. But she has left us a precious legacy, — the 
memory of an honored and beautiful life. And we 
shall best express our gratitude, not by flowers, or 
tears, or eulogies, but by following her example. 
The message of her life to this community — to 
town, to church and school, and to us all — is this: 
'Love one another, help one another, speak kindly 
one of another, and remember that the true life is 
the life that is hid with Christ in God.'" 

There was beautiful music, — two hymns Mrs. 
Wheaton loved, "Rock of Ages" and "Abide 
with me," sung softly and clearly by a single per- 
fect voice, and then the whole congregation joined 
in the one Mrs. Wheaton had asked for so often 
during her illness, "My faith looks up to Thee." 

Though the church was full of those who sin- 
cerely loved Mrs. Wheaton, there were not many 
tears. It seemed to be an hour for gratitude rather 
than for grief; all felt that a beautiful life had been 
completely lived, filled to the brim to the very last 
moment with good deeds and loving thoughts, that 
the time had come when the cares of this world, 


and the burdens of age could rightfully be laid 
down, and the thoughts of all turned naturally to 
the joy of the new life, on which their friend had 
entered. There seemed to be an atmosphere of 
aspiration rather than of grief, an aspiration ex- 
pressed by the words Mrs. Wheaton had repeated 
so often: — 

"O let me from this day 
Be wholly Thine." 

Again the schoolgirls formed in long lines on the 
green. As the June sunshine touched their bright 
hair, they were like some picture of Fra Angelico's 
whose angels crowned with halos are watching the 
entrance of some saint into glory. 

Mrs. Wheaton lies buried, with the other mem- 
bers of the Wheaton family, in what is called the 
Common Cemetery in Norton. On her stone is 
inscribed, — 

"Helper of the poor, sympathizer with the sorrowing, friend 
of humanity, servant of God." 

" She was gracious in all her ways, and the world is better for 
her having lived in it." 



On January 13, 1906, the New England Wheaton 
Club held a memorial meeting in honor of Mrs. 
Wheaton at the Vendome, in Boston, which was 
attended by hundreds of the old pupils of the Sem- 
inary. It was appropriate that this meeting should 
be conducted by Miss Pike. 

Mrs. Anna Spear Stebbins (Class of '70), Presi- 
dent of the Club, spoke a few introductory words, 
referring to the unique position of Wheaton Sem- 
inary, which had been founded at the suggestion of 
a young woman who had lived seventy years to 
watch over it and cherish it. 

Then the following program was presented : — 


Papers by 

a. Mrs. Elizabeth Cate Barrows. 

b. Miss Mary E. Blair. 

c. Sonnet by Mrs. Kate Upson Clark. 

d. Mrs. Mary Bailey Lincoln. 

(All read by Mrs. Lincoln.) 


Letter from Miss Ellen M. Haskell. 
(Read by Mrs. May Randlett Tufts.) 

[ 280 ] 


Paper by Miss A. Ellen Stanton, who also read a paper 
written by Mrs. Wheaton's own hand. 


Paper by Mrs. Jeannie Woodbury Lincoln. 
(Omitted on account of Mrs. Lincoln's illness.) 


Letter from Miss Frances Vose Emerson. 
(Read by Mrs. Emma Bird Murdock.) 


Resolutions from the Worcester Wheaton Club. 
(Presented by Mrs. Ellen Grout Gould-Smith.) 


Letter from Miss Mary E. Woolley. 
(Read by Mrs. Eloise McNeill Bird.) 


Paper by Miss Mabel H. Perry. 


Letter from Miss Julia Osgood. 


A few words from Mrs. Estelle Hatch Merrill. 


A few words from Miss Harriet E. Paine. 


Messages from Miss Susan Hayes Ward. 


Resolutions, presented by Miss Clara M. Pike, and adopted 
by the Assembly. 


Extracts from most of these papers have already 
been introduced in their natural place in the pre- 
ceding narrative. From others of more general 
scope, some extracts are given below. 

Miss Ellen M. Haskell, Principal of Wheaton 
Seminary, 1876-1879, says: "The word which 
comes to my mind most persistently when I think 
of [Mrs. Wheaton] is friendliness. You felt this in 
the pressure of her hand when she met you, in the 
quiet *I am glad to see you' of her greeting, in all 
the arrangements for your comfort while you were 
her guest. For the time being, you were at the cen- 
tral point of her interest. Yet Mrs. Wheaton had 
not an emotional temperament. Her greeting was 
never effusive, nor emphatic. Her hospitality was 
not lavish or ostentatious, there was no excess of 
preparation, her interest in you was not obtrusive; 
but you felt an unvarying warmth in her words, 
you saw that there had been thoughtful provision 
for your comfort, and that she welcomed any men- 
tion of personal matters that you chose to make. 
This warm current of feeling was broad and deep, 
and extended much beyond the circle of those she 
called her friends. She was quick to discern esti- 
mable qualities, and to sympathize with all forms 
of suffering, yet was free from sentimentality. She 
had the rare and precious gift of sane and abound- 
ing friendliness." 


Miss Mary E. Woolley, of the Class of 1884, and 
long a teacher at the Seminary, now President of 
Mt. Holyoke College, writes: — 

"As a student I anticipated the Senior tea [at 
Mrs. Wheaton's] as one of the chief events of the 
course, and remember with the greatest distinct- 
ness how dainty and delightful it was, from the 
time we were received in the drawing-room to the 
walk in the garden after supper. 

"During my five years as instructor I altogether 
lost my awe of Mrs. Wheaton, and gained a deep 
affection for her, which makes the evenings in her 
sitting-room a very happy memory. I think that 
I have never visited the Seminary since that time 
without seeing her, and every call made me ap- 
preciate her more and love her better. The few 
times I saw her after coming to Mount Holyoke, 
she filled with stories of Mary Lyon and her visits 
to Wheaton, making those days seem very real and 
full of life. Her friendship was an honor and an 
inspiration, and I shall always be glad that I may 
claim it as one of Wheaton's gifts to her daughters. 
No words in her praise can be too strong. She was 
a Christian gentlewoman of executive ability and 
courtly manners, with a keen interest in the gen- 
eral welfare and warm affection for the individual. 
I rejoice in every effort to make her memory live 
among the girls now at the Seminary." 

Sonnet by Mrs. Kate Upson Clark (Class of 
1869. Founder and President of the New York 
Wheaton Club, and Trustee of the Seminary). 

In Memoriam 

Down through the ages, though vast empires fell; 
Though ruin overtook great schools and schemes, — 
The teachers' porches and the poets' dreams, 

And palaces of kings; one fairy spell 

Lay ever on the world: ah, who can tell 

The way it grew! First, faint as dawning beams 
Of great suns rising; then, as gleams 

The radiant universal light, to quell 

All shadows; thus the spell waxed of God's love. 
Strongest it glowed in that immortal band 
For Jesus' sake who braved the dreadful deep. 

The flower of that strong plant; her texture wove 
Of love, high thought and purity; doth stand 
Her image, for our grateful souls to keep. 

Miss Julia Osgood, long a lecturer on Art in the 
Seminary where she had once been a pupil, writes: 

"I have in my mind a picture of our noble friend 
that reaches beyond Mr. Alexander's canvas; one 
that many who are gathered here to-day share with 
me, and so I venture to recall it, hoping that like 
the perfume of a flower of long ago, it will arouse 
emotions and affections that may have been dor- 
mant, but are none the less vital. 

"There rises before me a woman of powerful 
frame, of clear mental vision, of great dignity and 


simplicity of manner. Her surroundings embodied 
her tastes and aims. Her house was a generously 
proportioned and comely building of the last cen- 
tury, where every modern equipment found its 
place; where ostentation was unknown; where 
exquisite order and cleanliness prevailed without 
apparent effort, — as if they were inevitable con- 
sequences of her presence. No one could pass a 
day under her roof without noting that her house- 
hold attendants were individuals of character and 
special fitness for their position, while the com- 
panions nearest her person gave to her, and re- 
ceived from her, the tenderest affection. This 
home, the interior home, had for its setting a charm- 
ing old-fashioned garden; it was shaded by fine 
elms, and its windows looked out on the lawns and 
buildings of the Seminary, which its mistress con- 
stantly planned and prayed for. The path leading 
to her door was bordered with box; its perfume 
is here now, just as we all used to breathe it in, 
alike on summer days or when the landscape was 
wrapped in snow, as we stood for a moment on her 
piazza waiting for admission. 

"Every year that she lived we grew nearer to her, 
and she grew dearer to us. We learned something 
of her private methods of work, of her sense of 
stewardship in regard to the fortune she so faith- 
fully dispensed. 


" Her home became a hallowed spot, a place of 
pilgrimage, to which it was an honor to be admitted, 
for there was centred the wisdom gathered in 
nearly a century of experience, the fidelity that had 
ripened during many decades of life, and the love 
that had been maturing during nearly a hundred 

" Let us who constitute the Alumnae, and who 
stand, therefore, in the place of her children, keep 
green the memory of this noble woman to whom 
we owe so many blessings, and pass on to the com- 
ing generation the beloved name of 
"Eliza B. Wheaton." 

The program was closed by the informal reso- 
lutions presented by Miss Pike. 


The New England Wheaton Seminary Club 
desires to place on record its sense of the loss which 
its members have sustained in the death of Mrs. 
Eliza B. Wheaton, their beloved patron and 

The Club must long lament the loss of an intel- 
ligence so rare, an experience so rich, and a per- 
sonal influence so strong as hers. 

Those who came into intimate relations with her 
were attracted by the simplicity of her nature, held 

' [ 286 ] 

by her tender and abounding sympathy, enHght- 
ened by the wisdom of her unerring judgment, in- 
spired by her spirit of self-effacing service, and 
elevated by the nobility of her Christian character. 

That "Hfe is a great and noble calling, a lofty 
and an exalted destiny," is a truth that was force- 
fully demonstrated by her conscientious attitude 
towards its trusts and responsibilities. 

Mrs. Wheaton's place can never be filled, but 
the Association rejoices in its heritage of sacred 
memories and inspirations left by her to the in- 
stitution which she loved and fostered during her 
long life. 

Her uplifting faith and unfaltering hope con- 
quered age, and were triumphant even in death. 
And her glorious example remains in memory, a 
vital encouragement to youth, and a steady light 
in the path of advancing years. 

"He who gave life gave what seems death to man, 
But 't is a death that gives more life to life, 
God with one hand withdraws the life of earth, 
But with the other gives the life of heaven." 

Mrs. Stebbins then said one final word, that we 
must all feel it good to remember: "We have had 
an example; our part is to follow that example." 


The R. W.B.Jackson 



376.92 W558P1 45 C.1 

Paine # The life of Eliza 
Baylies Wheaton : a chapt 



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